Recording information: Claray Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Rock & roll rebels have been declaring rock & roll dead for a long time -- Lenny Kravitz sang a song about it in 1995, about two years after Elastica said something similar on a B-side -- so, in a sense, calling their full-length 2016 debut ROCKISDEAD is merely another sign that the L.A. quartet DOROTHY pride themselves on being traditionalists whose intent is keeping the fire burning. ROCKISDEAD carries some modern production flare -- all the fuzz guitars are compressed into thin gruel, the rhythms follow a tight sequence, the vocals of Dorothy Martin are tastefully pushed into the red -- but the aesthetic is vintage Sunset Strip sleaze channeled through the blues bluster of the White Stripes and Black Keys. Because Dorothy Martin, a self-styled rock & roll badass, fronts the group, DOROTHY can also recall the Kills or, perhaps more accurately, the canny commercialism of Elle King, who blended Jack White's retro-rock with Amy Winehouse's retro-soul. Apart from the bare-bones closer "Shelter," DOROTHY don't even flirt with soul, but their eager hooks and bad girl pastiche are certainly designed to please crowds in a fashion similar to King's and, as a whole, ROCKISDEAD satisfies precisely because it is so shameless in how it strives to embody everything junky in rock & roll. Despite DOROTHY's desire for authenticity, what's good about the band is how they never feel real: they're a studio band backing a self-styled star, a group creating aspirational rock that delivers cheap thrills because their ambition is so low and their execution so high. This isn't a garage band, this is a group of pros writing songs about raising hell, drinking whiskey, living after midnight, seeking shelter and guns -- cliches one and all, but it works because it's transparent trash so desperate to be dirty, it'll often get silly. Advertent or not, that silliness gives Rockisdead some lightness, helping it to become the riotous good time it so desperately wants to be. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine