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Dixie Witch | One Bird Two Stones | review | rock | Lollipop
One Bird Two Stones (Small Stone)
by Brian Varney
You'd never know from listening to either of Dixie Witch's albums that they're one of the best five or so currently-practicing rock bands in existence. This is not to say that said albums are bad - on the contrary, both 2001's Into the Sun and this, their second, are very fine albums. However, one does not experience the full majesty that this band has to offer from playing their albums - with Dixie Witch, it's all about the live show.
I first witnessed a Dixie Witch live set a little over a year ago, having heard the name and little else. About five or six minutes into the set, I was convinced I was watching the best band ever. You leave a Dixie Witch show pulsating, only part of which is due to the extreme volume (if Spinal Tap's amps go to 11, Dixie Witch's go to 25). Most of the emotional reaction that is bound to happen in anyone with a rock pulse is due to the heart with which the band employs its craft. A power trio in the truest sense of the term (there is plenty o' Grand Funk goodness to be had here), these three fellas play as hard as they can at all times. That's not to say that they play really fast or really intricate parts, it just means that they're expending 100% of their available emotional energy 100% of the time.
And, hey, the singing ain't bad either. The vocals of singer/drummer Trinidad Leal (best singing drummer since John Garner of Sir Lord Baltimore "fame") are road-parched and raspy, but full of soul, sorta like the alcoholic Texan result of crossbreeding experiments between Phil Lynott and Mark Farner. Even putting aside my amazement that he's able to sing like that while also kicking truckloads of ass on the drums, he's one of my favorite singers around.
The songs are forged of the same basic building blocks as 95% of the best classic rock: Rocking, drinking, loving, fighting, and living on the road. The reason the band is able to make songs built of these very common elements work so well is because they're living the life of the songs. If you're in Bon Jovi and travel by jet, stay in the nicest hotels, and make lots of money, songs about "The life of the rocker is hard and lonely" are not gonna ring very true. The fellas in Dixie Witch call their van home because they're always on tour. When you spend day after day and night after night crammed into the back of a van along with all of your equipment, living on gas station food, cheap beer and whiskey, rocking your hearts out to small crowds for barely enough money to make it to the next gig, you're entitled to write a song like "The Wheel." And if you do, it'll probably be full of soul and guts because, well, you're writing about the world you're inhabiting, for better or worse. I'm fairly sure the words "truth and soul" were not first paired as a description of a rock band, but you could certainly do worse when trying to sum up the things that make Dixie Witch great.
(PO Box 02007 Detroit, MI 48202)