Free Rein to Passions

The Dirty Nil: Free Rein to Passions

Free Rein to Passions
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Dine Alone
Producer: John Goodmanson
Release Year: 2023
Listen: Spotify / Apple Music

I was never a metal guy. As if that needed to be said. It just never became part of my music world. I remember going to sleepaway camp at some point (okay, it was a sleepaway tennis camp) and some dude in my bunk had an entire tape case filled with Mötley Crüe or Stryper or whatever that 80s metal equivalent was. He insisted they were the only and best rock musicians there were. Bullshit, I said, as I loaded another Smiths or Replacements tape into my Walkman. How could a dude with that hair and spandex know how to compose and crank out real tunes? So why, you ask, would I be so into The Dirty Nil, a band that would seemingly be way more on the side of the dude with the brown, K-Mart tape case than me if they were actually alive in the 1980s? Because when you take the metal-is-rad attitude and then play that music like a punk, it actually makes a lot more sense in 2023.

I do feel like every band starts with some sort of home base. Presumably it’s their prime influences. Or the type of music they learned in music college. Or jazz band. Or marching band. Or what they inherited from their older brother when he left the house. It doesn’t matter. But some dudes heard Zeppelin and picked up a guitar. Some heard The Clash. Some maybe heard KoЯn. I don’t know. The point is, there is a genesis to most band’s sound. For The Dirty Nil, it’s clearly some really weird lean into the more metal-y, arena rock side of Weezer. That Van Halen, Cheap Trick side. That part of the band that aspires to metal arena glory. The loud part. The guitar theater. The overdrive, the chuga-chuga of it all. Not speed metal. Not that clean wankery. But the punch of it, playing for impact rather than dexterity and speed. You can especially feel it on this album with the these-go-to-eleven stacks of sound wash. My metal and arena rock references being contradictory and confusing, I know. But, like I said, it’s a blind spot.

But unlike a bunch of these “modern” post-hardcore bands like Militarie Gun and Drug Church, these guys definitely lean way more heavily on the classic rock, harmonies and melody-forward approach. But without sacrificing power. In fact the fast-slow-fast inversion of the grunge and post-grunge alt rock era, and the classic tales of workin’ jobs, doing stupid shit with your buddies and being in a band grounds them in the tradition of classic 70s rock. Even those boys from The Crüe. What it all amounts to is a record with a lot of spirit and energy, but also big hooks and aspiration to be big. This ain’t your Gen-X slacker rock. And it’s also not throw-backy garage punk like a White Reaper — though it is in the same extended family. Ultimately, this is a record that is a purely Canadian burst of great indie pop rock that is irrefutably catchy and immensely satisfying in the most sugary of ways.