We all love us some of that gritty desert rock, it is the perfect soundtrack for a road trip, be that road trip through parched desert landscapes or urban concrete jungles. Desert rock is not a convoluted or an overly complicated form of music so you might think that all you really need is a few quality effects pedals, a few amps, a few instruments and a decent level of skill to play those instruments,.... if only it was that simple. If things were that easy then everybody and their dog would be in a desert rock band, to really be able to pull this music off successfully you need to also understand things like song structure, dynamics and lyrical context and even when you got that all down you have to make the resulting music GROOVE! Now this is so much easier when your band is a quintet, quartet or a trio but if you are a duo ... well it gets a little bit harder.Indianapolis' Dual Fighter are such a duo, consisting of Greg Osborne (guitars/vocals,/drum arrangements, editing and programming) and Andrew Funke (bass), two musicians who jam highly addictive grooves that recalls, in parts, early era Queens of the Stone Age and Josh Homme's Desert Sessions project but at the same have their own unique signature sound, as you will no doubt discover for yourselves when giving their debut "Mean Machines" (Galactic Fire Records) a spin.
Any desert flavoured rock album worth its weight in sand will kick off its account with something raucous and fuzzy and after a brief Hawkwind-esque intro that is exactly what opening track "Planet One Showdown" delivers, its stuttering riff and strident groove, coated in a clean and just the right side of mellow vocals, is pure desert rock and recalls a time when bands like Kyuss and Yawning Man hooked up their equipment to battered generators to play gigs in an actual DESERT! Following track "Fireball" is no less raucous or fuzzy than its predecessor and lyrically utilises yet another of those staples of the early stoner/desert scene, fast cars, Osborne pitching his lyrics from the viewpoint of a racing driver intent on winning despite his vehicle and his own body being engulfed in flame. "Wake The Echoes" changes things up slightly, the groove still strident but with the vocals taking on a more restrained meter, Osborne's voice pitched lower and a touch mellower. Up next is "Sparks Fly" a song tailor made for those long drives mentioned in the earlier part of this review, the songs addictive chorus and hard driving groove just screams to be played while speeding along a black tar highway with the top down. Title track "Mean Machines" sees Dual Fighter adding a little heavy psych colouring to their repertoire, Funke's booming bass locking in with the drums to create the perfect framework for Osborne to not only hang his vocals on but also his bluesy lysergic laced solos. "Hear The Eruption" mixes up its stoner rock with a little punk rock urgency while "Psycho Blue" is one of those songs that you know will become a crowd favourite when, or if, it gets played in a live environment. The duo sign out with "Renegades" a tranquil acoustic number with a well delivered vocal, a strange choice for an outro but nevertheless a good song.
"Mean Machines" is one of those albums that will sit in your collection for years and years, routinely dug out for those times when your mood needs a little lifting. In a scene full of bands trying to bedazzle us with complex concepts and brain twisting themes its nice to come across a band like Dual Fighter who just want to rock out on a fuzzy groove and put a smile back on people's faces.
Check 'em out ....