Independent rock band Dirtbag Republic returned Friday with its latest album, Tear Down Your Idols. The band’s third album, it came more than four years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Downtown Eastside (2017). The 11-song record is a presentation that many rock audiences will find interesting in a good way. That is due in part to the album’s featured musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements also play into the record’s presentation. They will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the album an enjoyable introduction to the band for some and an equally enjoyable return for the band’s established audiences.
Dirtbag Republic’s third album, Tear Down Your Idols, is a work that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. Its appeal is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question display a variety of approaches and sounds. Right from the opening of the 38-minute presentation, audiences get a track in ‘Main Objective’ that blends elements of pure guitar rock and some DIY garage punk elements for a whole that is unique in its own right. ‘Skinny,’ which immediately follows, blends those elements just as well but still ensures the arrangement is not just a repeat of the album’s opener. That is evident as it leans more in the punk direction this time. ‘Wannabees,’ the record’s third entry, changes things up once again with an arrangement that is a sort of SoCal punk style composition. The sleaze rock of the 80s is present here, too, but it plays just as much of a supporting role as it does in much of the rest of the record. ‘Don’t Answer To No One,’ which serves as part of the record’s midpoint, is another example of the blending of the noted rock and punk elements, what with the use of the piano line against the guitars, gritty vocals, and drums. The subtle variances in the arrangements continue from there through to the album’s end with the changes just enough in each to keep audiences fully engaged in the arrangements. Keeping this in mind, the arrangements are reason enough for audiences to hear this album. They are just part of what makes the record worth hearing. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical content add to its appeal in their own right.
The lyrical themes that are featured throughout Tear Down Your Idols are important to note because they are accessible, but not just more run of the mill content. Rather, it touches on some lesser approached themes. Case in point is the lyrical theme featured in the record’s title track. According to information provided about the songs, this song’s theme centers on the behavior of fans toward musical acts they love growing in popularity. Few acts across the musical universe have done this. The only act that immediately comes to this critic’s mind in thinking about this topic is rapper Eminem. So for the band to take on this topic, not necessarily shaming audiences per se, but addressing the behavior nonetheless is important. That is because as much as audiences may want certain acts to be “their best kept secret,” those acts all want to become the next big thing and deserve support in those efforts. The message is made clear as vocalist Sandy Hazard sings, “Everybody loves them now/Give it 2 to 4 more years/Going from the next messiahs to cancer of a Britney Spears/Everybody starts out small, playing clubs/And being part of the scene/Will popularity do them in/For fans who ain’t that keen anymore?/Do you really think you should tear down your idols?/When they become so popular it makes you suicidal/Do you really think you should tear down your idols/It doesn’t matter if you care about survival.” The indictment of sorts continues as Hazard sings in the song’s second verse, “Should they stand in the firing line/Do you want to be the first to say you despise them?/Fan fav or social pariahs/Do you want to be the first to say you despise them?” From here Hazard makes note of how far acts will go to keep fans because of those fair-weather audiences’ actions, re-issuing albums “with demos from a a garbage bin/Deluxe cash grabbin’ new version.” He speaks so much truth here between the audiences’ reactions to the acts’ growth and the circular causality of sorts that leads the acts to react, too. It is just one example of what makes the songs’ lyrical themes so attractive. It is nice to see another act willing to take on the audiences who claim to be fans, but then so quickly willing to turn their backs on their favorite acts. It is just one example of what makes the record’s lyrical themes so important to note. ‘Main Obective’ is yet another example of that importance.
As the noted information states, this song centers on the matter of getting older but still “staying true to rock n’ roll.” This is a matter that is accessible in its own right. It is also a mostly unique theme, as there are few acts out there in the rock and metal community that will broach the topic, again. There is still a stigma today, that people over 30 who listen to rock are old, etc. That is really sad, too. Rock (and music in general) transcends generations. Hazard does a good job of echoing the defiance of that stigma as he sings, “People say, ‘man you should grow up’/It makes me want to just throw up/Just because I’m old don’t make me dead inside.” He is so right in this brief, opening verse. If those older audiences who listen to rock are to be stigmatized, then so should the bands who entertain audiences their age and younger. Case in point, whether people want to believe it or not, the members of some of their favorite bands new and old alike are either 30 or older, with patches of gray showing in their hair or nothing but gray. Hazard continues his defiance, singing, “Please don’t bring me down/Just because you don’t want to be around us/Your idea of fun is always keeping me out on the run/As long as we can walk and talk and lay waste solos from the crotch/Oh, time will tell when we break down/Oh, gimme the final round.” Now given, the mention of the solos from the crotch maybe could have been worded a little differently, but what Hazard is talking about here is how guitarists perform on stage, guitars pointed straight out as they show off their skills. True, it is something of a fallic symbol in that note, but the overall point is not to make a sexual comment, but rather, to point out, there is still life in any rocker, no matter how old. It is a welcome statement that again, needs to be put out there considering the stigma that sadly still exists about older people being fans of rock and metal. It is just one more example of how the album’s lyrical themes prove so important to its presentation. ‘Sorry’ is yet another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.
The information provided with the album states that this song is about people who basically pay lip service to others when they apologize for doing something, not actually being sorry in the process. This will resonate with any listener for certain. Hazard does well in examining this issue as he sings late in the song, “When people tell you they’re sorry/But they just can’t get it right/When people tell you they’re sorry/Do you believe them or let it slide?” It is hard so often to know who is sincere when they apologize. It has always been this critic’s belief that if someone is truly sorry for something, that person will make the effort to change so said issues do not arise again, not just keep doing the same thing over and over. So Hazard’s question of “Do you believe them or let it slide” rings home for this critic even more. It is certain to do much the same with any listener, too. This is especially the case as Hazard makes note of sitting on a crumbling house of cards built on a stack of lies. Those lies are the false apologies delivered by those noted insincere people. Considering the thoughts and emotions expressed here, it makes the song’s lyrical content that much more accessible and engaging. To that end, it is yet another example of what makes the record’s lyrical themes so important. When it is considered along with the other themes examined here and those in the rest of the record’s featured songs, the whole makes clear why the lyrical content in this record is just as important to the album as the album’s musical arrangements. Moving on from here, there is one more item to examine about the album. That last item is the album’s production.
The production that went into Tear Down Your Idols is so important to examine because of the energy in each song and the subtle differences in each of the arrangements in their sounds and stylistic approaches. Thanks to the work put into the album in terms of its production, those subtle variances in the arrangements are just audible enough that audiences who actively listen to the record will catch them and remain fully engaged and entertained in the album. What’s more, with the noted blend of guitar rock and punk audible in each arrangement, the production expertly balanced the two leanings from one song to the next, bringing out the best in each song in the process. This works with the noted variations in each arrangement to further show the importance of the production to the record’s presentation. When the successful production is considered along with the overall content, all three elements join to make Tear Down Your Idols an enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new independent albums.
Dirtbag Republic’s new album, Tear Down Your Idols is a presentation that will appeal widely among rock and punk audiences. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements blend influences of both noted realms in each song, expertly balancing them and putting in some subtle variations from song to song to make them reason in themselves to hear the album. The lyrical themes that accompany the song’s musical arrangements are also of note because of their unique topics and accessibility. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring all of the most minute nuances work together to complete the record’s picture. Each item noted is important in itso nw way to the whole of th record’s production. All things considered, they make Tear Down Your Idols an interesting addition to this year’s field of new independent and rock albums.
Tear Down Your Idols is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Dirtbag Republic’s latest news at: