This is a review of "Diamond in Dirt" recorded by The Yalla Yallas. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2010.
This 12 song collection has been supported through Pledge Music, and is now available as a CD through the band's website. It's punk from its bleached blond hair, right down to its underpants and beyond.
But it's also a cracking dollop of rock and roll fun. The standard punk tethers of chord driven tunes and rhythmic sludge are blasted into dust by guitarist Will Grinder, bass player Matthew Dempsey and drummer Matt Delahunty - as sharp a band as anyone could dream of fronting. Thrills, rants, love songs, banjos, brass, country licks and skiffle are all hauled in, hosed down in vinegar and put to work. The whole thing succeeds in ways that I just did not expect.
The message is clear as a bell from the first cunning bars of the first song. "Under Attack" is archetypal punk territory ... "our rights" being trampled by the boys in blues, as per normal. So we get six bars of distant mournful strumming on a scratchy three chords from a C90 cassette tape. Then WHA M! Will Grinder hits it with fully sharpened 3D HD 64 bit attack and the room goes ballistic till finish.
"Death Shoes" at track 2 is Goth-country. "Wolves are howlin' ..." sings Rob Galloway "... and the streets are red". It could be a Johnny Cash song. The banjo doesn't just show up - it really plays for its dinner. And there seem to be a couple of sax parts in the mix too. It really is good - with a classic walking bass throughout.
"S.B.H.C." (some babe, hard core!) is less interesting. But then we get the sloganised swashbuckling of "I Don't Care." He really doesn't care what's on the news, does he? Not because he doesn't, but because the news doesn't. Footballers' wives, Jordan, whatever .. "leave me alone!" he wails. The band give it some too.
Bruce Springsteen? Track 5, "Diamond in Dirt" starts as if it could be .... but the title track has some moves of its own. Galloway is in soliloquy mode, talk/singing his eulogy right up to Grinder's glorious Chuck Berry solo. "I don't wanna be your boyfriend, I want something more" he blushes.
Emotionally purged, the next track has a more regular dose of doc marten punkalong classic "Come Home To Me!". At track 7 "Sometimes" flirts with emo abdication, but at least the band keep the backbone in place. "Last Laugh" has a freer excitement with stuttering guitar and big chorus singing on the woa oh! lines. It wouldn't have been out of place at Donnington. Galloway gets some decent menace into his voice and the energy levels are strong.
"Better Off With Nothing" is back in psychobilly, with the band carrying it away before the whiff of horseshit gets too strong. The solo is a treat. The sentiment is bang on. Then comes the utter mayhem of "Smash It All Up" that manages to sound like it says. Some artful work in the production and mixing gives it a very special sound. It's a real highlight track.
"Say No", starts, very nearly, as "Fourth Time Around" by Dylan, in extra-lyrical mood. There is a fascinating decay going on as its sermon proceeds. It's very simple and surprisingly affecting. More or less, on one acoustic and one electric guitar.
Then there's a long respectful pause of vinyl noise before closing track "doc's leather trousers" busts some disco noise onto us. A legendary Leeds promoter should be very proud - and open all his entry-level band nights with this tune playing full volume in the pa.