Agony Shorthand

Saturday, March 22, 2003
DUST DEVILS – DU YOU REMEMBER??...Decided to make myself a CD-R of the 1990 DUST DEVILS LP “Struggling Electric And Chemical” this afternoon, and tacked on a four-song 7”EP from the year before called “Dust Devils Is Big Leggy”. Remember this band? Always shackled by frequent, relatively accurate comparisons to Sonic Youth, the Manhattan-based Dust Devils got a bit of late-80s notoriety in Europe, released a few long-gone 12” records out there, put out the aforementioned “Struggling…” on the young Matador label (actually a co-release with Teen Beat), and then churned through a bunch of new members for a few years before packing it in (there may have been another LP in there somewhere, I don’t remember). One time on a visit to New York, I went to see them at CBGB a year after seeing them put on a great, loud-as-hell show in San Francisco with their “Struggling..” lineup of Lower East Side poster girl Jaqi on vocals & guitar, Mark Ibold (later of Pavement) on bass and Michael Duane on guitar (and oh yeah, a drummer). In New York, I walked in to find a band with a DUDE on vocals – no guitar in his hands - and Gerard Cosloy, Matador head, on bass (!). The end was definitely near.

Anyway, so how’s it hold up in 2003? Always a relevant question. Not too bad, I’d say, though this act was always pretty hit and miss. They had a knack for texturing washes of droning, ringing guitar in dense, noisy sheets very very well, and when they applied that to actual songs like “Throw The Bottleful” or “Love You Like a Rock”, it sounded pretty great. They also start the LP with an outstanding 10-minute cover of The Fall’s “Hip Priest” – a bold move that paid off handsomely. Lots of noisy, quasi-experimental filler in there as well that is produced well; that’s about the best I can say of it. I’d put them near the upper 20% of the era’s bands, and if you find a copy of this one used for under ten bucks, hey, why not give it a whirl.