The Dwarves; The Freak Accident

The Dwarves Must Die
(Sympathy)

The Freak Accident
(Alternative Tentacles)

All but the dullest punks get restless with age, but while Joe Strummer branched out in high-minded directions like world-folk, cruder and ruder minds chase a different kind of eclecticism. On The Dwarves Must Die, for example, Blag Dahlia trades whatever class he's got left for an orgy of ill-bred genres, from gangsta rap to spaghetti Western, all in the service of his usual lyrical theme: "Fuck you." Since the '80s, every Dwarves album has had an obvious underground classic. This time it's "Salt Lake City." The Ramonesy anti-anthem is a cranky kiss-off to the "Crossroads of the West" and its vacuumed streets -- "There isn't anything I will not do for you, except to walk among the Osmond Crew" -- and maybe the funniest thing dark humorist Dahlia has ever done.

The Freak Accident is a less bitter can of worms, a catchall for the misfit tunes that San Francisco's Ralph Spight couldn't pull off with his more aggressive outfit Victim's Family. It's a sandbox of styles containing some truly beautiful accidents, like the Crazy Horse-does-power-pop "Ex-Wife," and the melodious piano tune "You're the Reason," side by side with noir ballads and '50s alien-flick music. It's "mature punk" -- if such a thing can exist -- but still unsafe for your typical, unsupervised adult.

 
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