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Temperance Amid the Usual Raunch

*** 1/2 DASH RIP ROCK "Paydirt" PC Music

October 12, 1998|MIKE BOEHM

"We exist purely to counterbalance the serious, depressed, pseudo-intellectual crap like R.E.M., Judybats and the Connells," Dash Rip Rock's singer, Bill Davis, once declared when asked where his Louisiana-based band stood in the galaxy of Southern alterna-rock bands. "Some alternative college-rock bands in the South are witty and happy-go-lucky drunks with no message other than, 'I ignore all messages.' "

With "Paydirt," this notoriously rowdy and raucous trio counterbalances its own typical tendencies by tempering the raunch with brisk smart-pop offerings and even some serious, wistful and lovely jangle-rock numbers far more redolent of R.E.M.'s sober Athens, Ga., classicism than the whiskey-drenched roadhouse mayhem Dash has been bootlegging out of New Orleans for nearly 15 years.

"Paydirt" lets us enjoy it both ways, thereby setting Dash several notches above such monolithic raunch exponents as the Cramps, Southern Culture on the Skids and the Reverend Horton Heat. The hell-bent rock songs are as meaty, messy and delicious as plate of prime barbecue, and the reflective, wistful and openheartedly romantic moments are held aloft on breezes of pure-pop melody and harmony.

Dash's stylistic shimmies make for an album's worth of undulating, fast-flowing surprises and delights. The band comes out slamming with "King Death," a gritty, wild-eyed bit of loud philosophizing on humanity's great common denominator.

Then comes "She's Got a Lot Of," a twangy pop song that sounds like a Marshall Crenshaw outtake. "String You Up," as clever as it is unabashedly hormonal, imagines the perfect bedfellow as a cross between "the two finest things in the entire world / A Fender Telecaster and a beautiful girl."

With the hedonistic abandon of the perfect frat-party band, Dash Rip Rock provides every excuse for rock fans with diversified moods and tastes to roll around in "Paydirt."

(Available from PC Music, 711 8th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101. (619) 236-0187.

* Dash Rip Rock, the Sinners and Shot to Hell play Thursday at Linda's Doll Hut, 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim. 9 p.m. $6. (714) 533-1286.

Albums are rated on a scale of * (poor) to **** (excellent), with *** denoting a solid recommendation.

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