Dirty Sirens (self-released)
When it comes to rock 'n' roll, San Diegans are easy to please. If your band has rad riffs, bluesy licks and a charismatic singer, you're golden. Play a few shows, and, soon enough, you'll have countless concert-goers and music writers eating from your hand.
Experiment too much, though, and you risk losing your audience. While scores of citizens will be happy to sip some whiskey along to the straightforward, Southern-rock stylings of Dead Feather Moon, only a niche crowd will be game to experience the cosmic, stoner-drone transcendence of Earthless.
On their debut EP (available for download at dirtysirens.bandcamp.com), Dirty Sirens straddle these two spheres. Delivering a solid dose of Sabbath-like riff-rock, the up-and-coming quartet ramps up the intensity with the help of a dynamic frontwoman and some of the gnarliest, most fucked-up-sounding guitar I've ever heard from a local band. For better or worse, though, they stay firmly rooted in a radio-friendly realm.
The EP's gripping opener, "Siren Song," will fill you with a mix of terror and delight. Throwing down a hurricane of stabbing riffs and tribal drums, they ratchet up the tension only to find release in the chorus, when singer Monterey Salka—possessed with a voice that cuts like a rusty razor blade—lets out a big, "whoa-oh-oh" war cry.
"Hellfire" is more to-the-point. A straight-ahead rager, it's guided by pummeling drums, acidic lyrics ("You say that you're a man, but you're just a fucking cunt") and gnarly riffs from guitarist Christy H¸ber, who makes her six-string quake with generous helpings of fuzz and distortion. For all the track's crudeness, it bursts with shit-kicking attitude.
In "Speakeasy," Hüber lays down a buzzing, one-chord guitar riff that's so delectably potent that I'd have been happy if they'd grooved on it for, like, 20 minutes. Instead, they throw in a basic, three-chord chorus and double-time breakdown, missing an opportunity to explore the nuances of mood and texture.
Dirty Sirens have already gotten some buzz in the local scene, and I wouldn't be surprised if this EP helps land them a nomination for the San Diego Music Awards. Still, they could benefit from pressing deeper into experimental terrain, bar-goers be damned.