Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! -Psalm 150, V 1-6
There are hidden paths to redemption that can be found only through reaching the depths of depravity. It is possible to sin your way to salvation. Dirty Church is the just the right band to show you the way, with their debut EP “Lies, Eyes, Toucan, & Bank“. A new union of old familiar souls, this band has recently begun their systematic indoctrination of the citizens of Toronto via thundering grooves and reverberated sermons. There’s a raw immediacy to the band’s sound which fairly demands full-on boogieing. Musically, it’s a potent combo of old-school 1950s R&B and a punk-rock sense of abandon; what was once known as “garage rock”. Saxophone leads the way, guitars anoint your forehead, and the rhythms knock you down like a dubious faith-healer.
“Told You So” starts the party with a bit of finger-waving bravado. From the outset, the band’s mission is clear: they are here to make you move, like sweat is the price of admission into the kingdom of the Almighty. The stop-start stutter of the guitars plays up against the blazing sax heroics, letting the listeners know that this is a congregation who celebrates the joys of the flesh as much as anything else. With the ascending chorus, you can almost see the outstretched hands of the holy masses, dancing into sweet oblivion.
“Lies” begins with an instantly classic, echoey guitar riff and quickly segues into a full-on Shaker party, with the congregation writhing and wriggling and speaking in tongues. Again, there’s a sense of admonishment, like the preacher is scolding you for losing your faith. But the Lord is forgiveness and accepts those who have strayed. So as long you keep dancing you’ll be saved.
“Eyes Wide Open” is a modified blues/rockabilly rant against agents of sin and infidelity. There’s an earnestness to the tune, an “I miss my girl” vibe which is entirely appropriate in this context of mid-twentieth century rock n’ roll revivalism. “Toucan” follows this same template, to equally great effect. Who doesn’t love a saxophone/guitar dual? It’s one of the aforementioned hidden routes to paradise. If Jesus played rock and roll music, he probably would have been a saxophonist.
“Bank” welcomes us to the garden of earthly pleasures. Atop a skittering, frantic beat, Dirty Church revel their love of the carnal. Beneath their robes, these priests conceal the lustful hearts of men. Another great, Dick Dale-esque guitar riff, and more wicked sax licks.
“Careful” ends the prayer session in an introspective, reflective mood. One of the main functions of religion is to allow us to process and accept our personal pain, in whatever form it may grip us. In this simple elegy to love gone awry, we find the simple, sensitive, lovesick men at the heart of this bizarre cult. Lift up your arms and rejoice in your heartbreak. Through dance, debauchery, and self-discovery, the Dirty Church will lead you to redemption.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. —–Psalm 34, V 18-20