Punk and garage rockers can be a pretty easy lot to please. Once they sink their teeth into something they like, they’re pretty loyal to their favorite bands, as long as they just stick to the script. And for a while it seemed like Dan Sartain was one such guy who respected the straight-and-narrow path. With four records neatly tucked away under his belt, Sartain has already run circles around his bastardized, basement-born brand of garage and punk a few times over. But no matter how many times he worms his way through the gutter, the end result is always a fun, invigorating listen.
That said, no one would have faulted Sartain if he opted to keep preaching to the ugly choir on Dudesblood, the singer’s latest offering for One Little Indian Records. But that would have been too easy, wouldn’t it? Even though Sartain continues to warmly embrace the trashier side of the rock ‘n’ roll underbelly, Dudesblood also represents a curious break from tradition. There are the prerequisite shit-hot ragers (“You Don’t Know Anything”, “Love Is Suicide”), but there’s a sharper, subversive streak running through Sartain’s music, one that takes him further out on a limb. “Smash the Tesco” spits with punk aggression, but Sartain’s over-the-top, ’77 street punk delivery gives the tune a healthy dose of camp. When he’s not sticking 100 percent to his stock and trade, Sartain jumps into new sonic waters, splashing his way through gothic-tinged American rock ‘n’ roll (“Pass This On”), satirical trysts with country western music (“HPV Cowboy”), and even Petty-like heartland rock (“You Gotta Get Mad to Get Things Done”), the last of which is handled with surprising reverence.
Considering we’re used to seeing Sartain adhere rigidly to his brand of lo-fi punk, it’s interesting to find that he’s got other cards in his hand to play. The dexterity displayed on Dudesblood, if nothing else, forces fans and listeners to give Sartain’s music a little added pause for thought, and the record does its own small part to help keep today’s garage punk scene on its toes.
Essential Tracks: “Pass This On”, “Love Is Suicide”, and “You Gotta Get Mad to Get Things Done”