Music

Dirty on Purpose: Hallelujah Sirens

Will Rausch

Dirty on Purpose, firmly planted in the indie music world, try their darndest on their sophomore effort, Hallelujah Sirens, not to be pinned into any subgenres.


Dirty on Purpose

Hallelujah Sirens

Label: North Street
US Release Date: 2006-06-27
UK Release Date: 2006-06-27
Amazon
iTunes

It is rather commonplace in popular music for fans and labels alike to try and pin-point bands and put them in ultra-specified, labeled boxes. No genre is exempt from the pandemic, especially indie pop, with sub genres ranging from the experimental indie of Sonic Youth to the indie pop of the Sounds and somewhere in between with the ambient pop of Stereolab. The merits of the labeling are not hard to see, either from the reviewers' or fans' standpoint, as it allows for comparison between bands, or from the marketers' standpoint, as any product needs a label.

But the shortcomings of labeling artists are not hard to see either; not only do most musicians spit at the idea of having their creative endeavors put into containers, but trying to classify a band that does not fit neatly into the predefined confines of a genre or subgenre is not only difficult, but it also takes away from the focus of enjoying the music.

Dirty on Purpose, firmly planted in the indie music world, try their darndest on their sophomore effort, Hallelujah Sirens, not to be pinned into any subgenres. The album features a little bit of everything from the smorgasbord of indie rock: the fractured songwriting and guitar effects of Built to Spill, the dramatic build of Sonic Youth, the shiny guitar of the Sundays, and everything in between. The strong opener, "No Radio", features airy vocals and fuzzy textured guitars over a simple rhythm, incorporating acoustic guitars and horns at the chorus. "Car No-Driver" starts off with a catchy space guitar riff and then takes off with pulsating drums to become one of the fastest and most memorable songs on the disc. The vocal-free track "Monument" opens with a two note bass line and carries it through various guitar landscapes a la Built to Spill's "Goin' Against Your Mind".

In terms of craftsmanship on the CD, "Marfa Lights" takes the cake. After about a minute of slow building piano and distant-sounding guitars, the bass line creeps into the four-chord buzz, which then drives the rest of the song. Lyrically, the song finds the band driving off into the desert, following the mysterious and colorful ghost lights of Marfa, Texas, which skeptics have attributed to temperature changes and headlights from a nearby highway, though no source for the luminous balls has been proven.

The driving theme of "Marfa Lights" can be found throughout Hallelujah Sirens, whether it's a metaphor for driving through life and getting lost in "Light Pollution" or the novel metaphor for driving through life once again and getting lost in "Car No-Driver." Dirty on Purpose may create pretty music with shimmering guitars, but lyrically they seem to be a little -- brace yourself for the horrible pun -- dirty. One minute they are euphoric and the sun is shining ("No Radio") but in a New York minute the tides have changed and the Brooklynites are alone at night, only to be happy again when the sun rises. To be fair, though, when someone mumbles lyrics in an ethereal tone, it's the mood of the words that matters, not the actual lyrics.

Occasionally, especially on some of the slower tracks such as "Always Looking", Dirty on Purpose start with the momentum of a beautiful sound, only to go nowhere with it and ramble on for five atmospheric minutes. In spite of these shortcomings, Hallelujah Sirens establishes the New York-based group's own interesting, albeit at times misguided, sound.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image