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Dirty Moons

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Album Review

"No one gets a twilight to their career any more," Doug Enkler howls three songs into Prisonshake's Dirty Moons. "No one gets the chance to make mediocre album number four/ When they bring back the cut-out bin/Save a spot for us, right behind the Pretty Things." The mere fact that Enkler mentions record stores as he rants about the sad state of rock will date this tune in the eyes of many, but then again that might not have been the case when Prisonshake wrote and recorded it; Dirty Moons was cut over a stretch of 12 years, from 1995 to 2007, and Scat Records facetiously refers to it in their promo materials as "an underground rock Chinese Democracy." Unlike Axl Rose's infamous experiment in art therapy, Dirty Moons actually sounds like the work of a functioning rock band, and one that took their time as a consequence of limited cash flow, creative wanderlust, and other life commitments rather than unfathomable creative obsession, and for a work that took so long to take shape, Dirty Moons sounds remarkably organic and well-focused. If you count the multi-format set I'm Really F****d Now, Dirty Moons is in fact the fourth long-player Prisonshake have delivered amidst a long and steady stream of singles and compilation tracks, and the band has avoided the mediocrity they feared; in the grand Cleveland tradition, Dirty Moons sounds arty without being the least bit pretentious, with a lean and scrappy guitar attack from Robert Griffin and tough, propulsive drumming from Patrick Hawley driving the songs whether they're punk-leaning screeds like "F**k Your Self-Esteem" or extended journeys through their collective muse such as "Year of the Donk" and "We've Only Tasted the Wine." Even at their most introspective, Prisonshake never descend into navel-gazing tedium on Dirty Moons despite its hefty length; while it could have been squeezed onto one CD, this has been released as a two-disc set and has the feel and scale of a double album from the classic era, and this collection consistently shows smarts, attitude, and muscle though all four "sides." While Prisonshake may have fallen off the indie rock radar since Failed to Menace appeared in 1994, Dirty Moons makes it clear they were still making great rock & roll during their years in the woods, and it's one of the most pleasant surprises of 2008.


Formed: 1987 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Prisonshake's approach to rock can be loosely compared to Fugazi. Like Fugazi, the most important thing is the music, and they could not care less about record sales, videos, radio, or glamour. But unlike Fugazi, Prisonshake's record output has been limited to just a couple of full-length albums, plus a slew of singles and appearances on compilations, and they don't play live regularly. Admirably, they're writing music for their own enjoyment, and if other people like it as well, that's fine...and...
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Dirty Moons, Prisonshake
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