THE DEXATEENS – The Dexateens (Estrus)
The term “Stonesy” is bandied around the I-94 Bar an awful lot – and yours truly is the worst offender. You might say it’s a lazy way of labelling a band (and as much as we all say we detest labels, we need common terms like them to communicate approximations of our perceptions). Or you could say (as I do) that the Stones are such a touchstone of what’s good in rock and roll that most things worthy are sound like them. Like these Alabama boys, The Dexateens.

Maybe it’s the ragged harmonies from Elliott McPherson and John Smith or the Gram Parsons-derived guitarwork both of them indulge in so well, but a track like “Elrod” is as Stonesy as anything off “Exile”. Same goes for the swaggering “Shelter” or the off-centre “Hard Lovin’“.

But that’s only part of the story; a track like “Cherry” is all leaky, feedback-laden guitars and angry ranting. Hailing from the same circuit as the QuadraJets and the mighty Immortal Lee County Killers (the latter being an outgrowth of the former), The Dextateens describe their sound as “Black Flag-meets-Arkansas-‘skillet rock’“ and who’s to argue? It doesn’t matter much other than to say it’s all good.

Apart from appearances on a couple of compilations, this is the first substantial release from The Dexateens who have only been around since 1998. Estrus heard their work and jumped at a chance to sign them. The baker’s dozen songs released here was recorded at a variety of local sessions. Tim Kerr, who’s somewhat of an in-house producer for the label, twiddled the dials in the final mixdown and added some guitar and piano.

The end result contains some challenging sounds. “The Air We Breathe” is all buzzing guitars and skeletal arrangements that make it the most “out there” tune. (So good, it’s reprised at the end). “Bleeding Heart Disease” (which this time sounds like Keef and Ronnie, instead of Keef and Mick), “Strangle Hold” and “Cherry” vie for title of ballsiest songs on the disc.

The band apparently scratch their collective heads over constant Stones comparisons (they muddled around in their early days, trying to be a cross between the Quadrajets and Black Sabbath, so the story goes). Maybe the common lineage is Delta blues, but here’s another reference point – the Beasts of Bourbon. OK, it’s not that precise, but there are shared attributes in some of the ‘Teens’ more furious and dirtier moments. If you’re a fan of the Beasts, I can’t see why you wouldn’t take to the Dexateens.

Anyway, Estrus has hit the nail on the head (again) with The Dexateens. There’s enough skuzzy energy at work on these 13 songs to make the ride ahead plenty interesting.The Barman