by Eric Davidson

The Dwarves Fri April 18


It's true, the Dwarves have long entered the pantheon of dead-horse beaters. Actually, flailing away on an ex-equine would be an inviting topic for the shock-punk act. They've already covered murder, familial sex, and drop-dead overdoses. And yeah, they punch audience members, pee on stage, play short sets, and blah, blah, Blag.

But what is constantly lost in all the yawning laundry listing of their zany antics is just how damn good a songwriter Blag Jesus really is. The point of punk rock is anything but reflection, and surely the Dwarves' canon is reliable for quick fixes of riot-readying. That's what makes all the sonic layering, hilarious sampling, Jim Thompson-meets-Bazooka Joe lyrics, and sticky hooks that much more amazing. It's easy enough to plod through slow seven-minute songs and come up with nice melodies, even easier to hear them. What naysayers flippantly ignore is that it actually takes a little more work to get past the speedy thrust of a Dwarves record to fully swallow the gobs of ideas hitting you in the face.

Rivaled only by the Supersuckers, the Dwarves have amassed the best catalog of all the '90s scuzz punk 'n' roll bands. They've got another record coming later this year on Sympathy for the Record Industry. Plopped amongst those recs are Blag's numerous side projectiles, like the boogie-rocking Penetration Moon, and his spot-on bluegrass forays under the Earl Lee Grace moniker. Plus he's a frequent indie producer of such pop-punk faves as the Swingin' Utters, and he's published two crime novels.

It would seem with the recent release of How to Win Friends and Influence People (Reptilian Records), an album of rewrites of old Dwarves "hits," even Blag & Co. are aware their shtick has attained Rodney Dangerfield redundancy. Unlike most punk bands, though, a little age and slightly slower tempos prove advantageous in allowing you naysayers the space to appreciate the Dwarves' pugnacious pop. Hopefully some foolhardy A&R cheese will someday dump two mil into Blag's sac and he can finally make the Pet Sounds lurking in him, beyond those wails of a dying horse.