When I find myself in times of trouble, dear reader, Mother Mary sometimes comes to me and speaking words of wisdom, and says, "Hey Collin, quit lying about like a jackass and go do something you enjoy." This advice usually goes quite a distance and during normal years I would always go out and do something wholesome. "Taking the cure" is what I called it, which basically works itself out as a trip to the beach, a short hike and going to a movie or seeing a good band. Sadly, this hasn't been a normal year and my times of trouble are, like a lot of you are likely experiencing, short of cures.
So when Clean Girl & the Dirty Dishes sent out the press release about their upcoming album, Out of the Skillet and into the Frying Pan, I pounced like a starving ocelot at the chance to review it. In fact, I even made one of my very few pandemic trips to Eureka to pick up an advance copy from singer and upside-down southpaw guitarist Courtney Jaxon at her business The Little Shop of Hers. After a nice chat, during which time I said that I would give her album the same consideration that I give every CD, which is a nice long listen while driving in my truck, I hit the macadam and steered toward State Route 255 and Manila. This turned out to be a good instinct, as the passive boredom of the safety corridor is no setting for an album as splendid as this.
One thing that every good garage band has in common, from early proto-freaks like The Stooges and The Cramps to later monsters like The Gories, The Dirtbombs and the Platonic garage ideal known as The White Stripes, is a good fuzzy guitar tone. Not too much treble (this isn't surf rock) and not too much low end, either (it's not stoner jams). Just a good midrange growl. Clean Girl understands this so well that I would use this record in a classroom setting on proper balance. And the drums provided by Gary Lee Silver never miss a beat or add an unneeded splash — exactly the right chug here. Jaxon's vocals are pleasantly doubled and the songs do something that is obvious when done right: They absolutely snag you with great melodies, strong hooks and fun lyrics. Why this is so hard for most bands I'll never know but these two are masters at the form.
Clean Girl & the Dirty Dishes is one of the last bands I saw live before the plague curtain came down. They played many of these songs that night at Richards' Goat Tavern & Tea Room, one of the most memorable being the wildly catchy "Lady of the Night." Listening to this record and its well-sequenced tunes reminded me of that delightful setlist from so many months ago, and I might have dropped a tear or two behind my heart-shaped sunglasses (which I wear often these days because who the fuck cares anyway) when remembering how simple and good life can be. In my hour of darkness, this album let me be happy again for repeated listens as the road rolled underneath my vehicle in a private, one-man concert.
Out of the Skillet and into the Frying Pan officially dropped on Black Friday, Nov. 27 and is available at The Little Shop of Hers. I highly suggest you get a copy.
Collin Yeo (he/him) lives in Arcata and asks that you all try to look out for each other.