Vocals. Guitar. Noise. These are the roles of Dave Hollier in the rock project King Ropes. Dirt is the band’s first album, and despite the seeming simplicity of the title, it could not have more meaning. From the grittiness of the sound, to the reference to the reality of hard work. ”After years of working with my hands, I was at a place in my life with a severe lack of dirt under my fingernails, so I guess that calling it Dirt is a bit of an incantation, hoping to attract more of it back into my life,” says Hollier. The explicit and implicit images that the four-letter title brings to mind fit the sound well.
The album kicks off with “Dogleg Boy” – an immediate highlight with its garage feel and vocal expansion. The sound is full, fleshed out by the guitar which seems to swing from near to far in combination with the vocals. “Lurch On Sister”, on the other hand, rocks from side-to-side. Both tracks have an undercurrent of darkness, but the latter introduces a Kurt Vile-style twang. We begin to see the Americana influences that make King Ropes so authentic.
Texture is an important part of King Ropes’ sound. From the Velvet Underground-type distortion on “Long Lost Boy” to the music box twinkle of “Low Over Cheyenne”. Amidst the relative darkness, there is a sweet flavour to “She Says / Come On” and even “International Shortwave” which becomes a classic with its slow growth towards electricity.
Americana, as a genre, sometimes feels bigger than itself, but King Ropes find a uniqueness. Perhaps due to the quality of their lyrics (see the final track, “Rocks in Little Crevices”), but also in the melancholy folk-style grit (“She’s a Runner”). When it comes down to it, the album is truly summed up in the name. Dirt is a sometimes messy, always satisfying journey. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need.