I will always have a place in my rock ‘n’ roll heart for Jeff Dahl. He was/is a torch bearer for true rock ‘n’ roll and for more than 30 years, his music has resonated with me like few others. He wore his heart on his sleeve. Uncompromising, loud ‘n’ fast punk ‘n’ roll that owed a debt to the Stooges, Ramones, Thunders, The Dead Boys. It was a blueprint from which he never wavered. In the early 90’s when the focus of the musical majority shifted from the Sunset Strip to Seattle, he remained a salvation for those of us that had no interest in Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The masses are asses as Donita once sung. Teen Spirit may have been a game changer for most, but a face-melter like ‘Lisa’s World’ spoke more to me. You want more examples ? How about ‘Suicide City’, ‘Goin’ Underground’, ‘Chemical Eyeballs’, ‘Elks Lodge Riot’, ‘Radio Babylon’ or ‘Hey Cinderella’? Dahl’s vast body of work speaks for itself, and if you ain’t familiar with it, climb to the top of the diving board and plunge right in. It sounded great then, still sounds great now ……
Yet it’s 2020. Jeff Dahl has ridden out of the Devil Tree Ranch and is ensconced back in his home state, Hawaii. With renewed vigour and focus, he has gone about releasing an out ‘n’ out killer slab of hi-energy melodic punk to remind all and sundry that he is well and truly back, and to any sceptics who thought he was out to pasture, Electric Junk reaffirms that there’s life in the old dog yet. For believers, Electric Junk is much needed ear tonic, and significantly, stacks up against anything he’s done. A couple of years back, Dahl re-emerged with a new album after a hiatus of a few years out of the game. That album was ‘Made in Hawaii’ and with it’s surf overtones, was a welcome return back to the fold. Electric Junk is even better.
The album opens in a big way with the Stooges-esque ‘Until We Bleed’. Killer solo, killer tune and out of the gates in a big way. ‘Superstar Café explodes out of the speakers and is nothing short of unadulterated glitter punk damage with a catchy riff and sing along chorus. Wow. Whizz bang boogie, everything is definitely groovy. Before I go any further, I have to make mention of Dahl’s vocal. He never sounded better. Good living has obviously agreed with the man as his voice sounds the same as it did 30 years back. Check out ‘I Am So Wasted’ as evidence of this. 3 chords and a bad attitude – this is a high energy punker but with the all-important melodic hook underscoring the whole thing. Absolutely love ‘Violence Squad’ with it’s big stomping chorus reminiscent of Sham 69. Yet the pummelling drums and anthemic chorus give this a glam punk edge and imaginings of a Tarantino film, with Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek adding further muscle on lead guitar.
Move over Rocket Man, move over Space Cowboy and make room Major Tom – the Psychedelic Spaceman has arrived, and it’s a mind expanding trip. Hotter than the surface of the sun, colder than the dust of the moon – Dahl’s creative use of interstellar themes / imagery on this tune, combined with some musical trimmings (including echo and vocal effects), and all underscored by a minimalist riff results in the album’s surprise. I dig this.
As soon as I heard ‘In My Mouth’ it reminded me of what it was about Dahl rock ‘n’ roll that reverberated with me all those years ago. Plenty of melody, catchy chorus, riff heavy. Total Dead Boys/Hollywood Brats /Mott action. Plenty of punk sneer on the verses, building to an infectious chorus replete with girl-group harmonies. And man, that searing guitar. This one grooves and then some. Close to the album’s cherry for mine, although that gong goes to the ‘The Wooo Girls’. Super appealing mid-tempo glamorama that had me thinking of classic Mott, early Roxy and even vintage Runaways. Kim Fowley used and abused and catchier than coronavirus. Same goes for ‘NFG’ with it’s punk chorus and glitter licks. Deniz Tek provides the blitzing solo. The sound ? Picture Ronno playing with the Hollywood Brats. Sick on you and then some. Either way, Dahl again nails it. Another green tick. The 77 styled pulsating punk of ‘Viva Vibrator’ should keep the girls satisfied before the plaintive piano/vocal piece that is ‘Weirdly, Richard’ ends proceedings.
Top to bottom, Electric Junk cooks. Dahl is back in inspired form to show all the young’uns how its done. 9 out of 10. It’s good to have the man back.
Electric Junk is out now. Pick up a CD or digital copy via CD Baby here, or on vinyl at Ghost Highway Records. Email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org