Dixie Dirt – Springtime is for the Hopeless and Other Ideas EP

Dixie Dirt
Springtime is for the Hopeless and Other Ideas EP

Just to clear any confusion for those who might be hooked by their name, Dixie Dirt does not sound anything like country, roots rock, or anything “Dixie” for that matter. But that’s not a bad thing. Their debut, Springtime is for the Hopeless and Other Ideas, is primarily a rock guitar record in the craggy vein of Neil Young and Ragged Glory. This lengthy EP grinds through seven songs that at turns sputter and soar to majestic heights.
The twin guitar attack of Kat Brock and Angela Bartlett create instantly appealing sonic landscapes. On the first track, “Fast Food Media,” which, in an odd way, made me think of Neil Young covering Jane’s Addiction’s “Three Days,” the two guitars softly strum the opening and build in intensity until reaching an inspired, gritty climax nearly eight minutes after the first notes. In “Atoms,” Brock and Bartlett jar a gently plucked opener with a double blast of guitar fuzz only to settle it back down again in easy 3/3 time. “Kaleidoscope” crackles with urgent punk-blues licks before finishing with an extended, two-minute guitar solo. “Old Soul,” opens with the guitars chirping for a minute before the drums and bass join in. It takes them another minute before they kill the chirps and roll into a brooding jam.
With drummer Simon Lynn owning the beats and Brad Caruth’s understated bass work, the long instrumental stretches of this record show a compelling chemistry between the members. And they offer the hooks to tolerate the lack of any clear structure in the lyrics and Brock’s muddy and difficult vocal leads.
Thankfully, out of more than a half-hour of music, Brock’s voice is heard over sparingly few minutes. She sings with the unsteady, high-pitch of a hung-over 10-year-old. Lyrically, Brock does not follow any structured approach in her songs. Her verses begin and end leaving no real impression of what she’s trying to say. What little I could make out sounded more like lists or unconnected “deep thoughts” she scribbled into a notebook. Unfortunately, given the pronounced character of her voice, the words do make a difference.
That difference turns out to be distracting and, ultimately, it keeps these songs from being more than moving instrumental jams broken up periodically by high-pitched gibberish. It’s as if the band was getting too much enjoyment out of playing together that they forgot to include any vocal parts on their first few takes.