Sure, playing 350 shows over the past three years all over the world was pretty impressive. Opening for The Who in front of 50,000 people? Not bad for a couple of loudmouths from the quaint, quiet valley town of Dundas, Ontario. And, sure, winning the Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year made the parents proud. But of all the accomplishments that Hamilton-based power trio The Dirty Nil have ticked off their bucket list since coughing up their debut single, “Fuckin’ Up Young,” in 2011, nothing tops the honour that was bestowed upon them back on March 23, 2015.
Like any group of true artists, The Dirty Nil channel trauma into their music… and on the band’s second album, Master Volume, the harrowing experience of seeing the inside of America’s most disgusting hotels, night in and night out, manifests itself in the song “Super 8.” “I’m halfway to hell/ It’s called Super 8 Motel,” Luke Bentham sings, stretching out the words with the palpable pain of someone who’s struggling to catch some precious between-gigs shut-eye on a mattress riddled with bed bugs and stains of dubious origin. But for The Dirty Nil, the effects of non-stop touring go way beyond translating one-star Trip Advisor reviews into song.
Produced by veteran alt-rock architect John Goodmanson, Master Volume is an album that crunches and grooves where the band once smashed and trashed, unleashing the Nil’s undiminished raw power in more controlled waves to better target the back rows. “It’s less of a sprint and more of a strut,” Luke says, and he credits a great deal of the tempo shift to the arrival of Ross Miller, who replaced original bassist Dave Nardi in early 2017. While Ross was already Luke and Kyle’s roommate, his pedigree includes playing with everyone from Wanda Jackson to Single Mothers.
Loaded with steady-grooving songs about living fast and life-affirming anthems about dying young, Master Volume ultimately amplifies The Dirty Nil’s most essential quality: their refusal to be defined. They’re too melodic and muscular to be purely punk, but too raucous and unhinged to pass as straight pop; too cheeky to be overtly political, but still acutely in tune with the unsettled, anxious energy of the times in which we live. Whether you find catharsis in a crowd-surf or a street protest, Master Volume captures the ecstatic rush of getting swept up in a communal moment… and the frantic fear that it can all come crashing down at any second. via dinealonerecords.com