Review: ‘Dirt’ by King Ropes
In January 2016, garage band King Ropes released their debut album, Dirt. Led by Dave Hollier, the group is currently based in Bozeman, Montana, though the album’s first recording sessions began in Brooklyn before briefly moving to Los Angeles. Hollier describes being pulled between urbanity and rural life as a defining influence on his songwriting. Born in Montana, he moved to New York in the 1980s, and the contrast between the two states has shaped his band’s sound, combining roots rock with industrial elements.
The album opens up with the bruising “Dogleg Boy,” a solid introduction to the band’s full-bodied brand of garage rock. “Long Lost Boy” is snappy and weird, with evocative imagery (“The long lost boy, he’s a pretty tough cookie / With his tombstone bible and his sledgehammer hands”). The rest of the album is a lower-key affair, exemplified by “International Shortwave,” the enigmatic standout that features sparse piano and acoustic guitar over a bed of squealing feedback, with distortion slowly creeping toward the foreground. The cryptic “Rocks in Little Crevices” closes the album with a languid and ominous steadiness, with occasional major-key flourishes weaving in and out like tiny glimmers of hope amid weariness.
Check out the music video for “Shovel and a Pickaxe“
Explaining his approach to songwriting, Hollier says, “There’s something beautiful to me about a song where you get the sense that it comes from a real experience, but there’s enough left out that you’re not sure you really know the whole story.” The lyrics in Dirt can be mystifying, but there is a tangible and visceral emotional through-line; Hollier’s characters are worn and bruised but trying to make it better. The refrain in “She’s a Runner” emphasizes this idea: “The things we had, the things we lost / We’ll just get us some more.”
For more info on the band’s upcoming projects and tour dates, visit their Facebook page and official website.
Stream the full album on Bandcamp or Spotify.
Dogleg Boy (3:37)
Lurch on Sister (3:41)
Long Lost Boy (2:43)
She Says / Come On (4:12)
International Shortwave (3:35)
Shovel and a Pickaxe (4:00)
Mandolins and Gasoline (4:14)
Low Over Cheyenne (3:40)
She’s a Runner (3:25)
Rocks in Little Crevices (5:14)
Dave Hollier – vocals, guitar, noise
Konrad Meissner – drums
Dylan Treleven – bass, guitar
Ben Roth – guitar
Adam Wolcott Smith – guitar, keys