The Dishes serve up the kind of snotty, snarly, stop-start garage punk that's enjoyed a minor vogue of late, thanks to successive Next Big Things the Strokes, the Hives, the Vines and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Indeed, the dirt-rock cognoscenti will no doubt cleave to this female-fronted Chicago quartet on the basis of their guitar sound alone: Sarah Staskauskas' and Kiki Yablon's filthy, fuzz-coated riffs howl, thunder and groan with the requisite '70s Detroit grime/glam grandeur. With songs about jailbait, groupies and crankin' the Troggs (on eight-track, natch), the Dishes obviously understand the power of "getdown gutbucket rock & roll" (to borrow a phrase from its greatest defender, Lester Bangs).
What keeps the Dishes from the empty retro posturing so prevalent among their peers is soul and smarts. On their second full-length, 1-2 (No. 89 Records), they make you wonder what Wire might have sounded like if they'd been given sex-change operations and transplanted to a Midwestern garage (and, no, the answer isn't Elastica). Singer Staskauskas sneers along with the best of 'em: "Do you need some sex to be sexy?" she asks on the lethally catchy opening track, simultaneously mocking and reveling in the glorious idiocy of the Id. It's a captivating contradiction, rock & roll, and the Dishes aren't looking to dismantle it. Quite simply, they rock -- unironically, unapologetically, unequivocally -- and if you wanna derive from this fact some kind of fashionable postmodernish feminist argument, well, that's your prerogative, but it's really not the point.