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Indie Meets...Elton?: The Dirty Words glow by going clean on International Machine 

click to enlarge The Dirty Words: Seeing through the trees.
  • The Dirty Words: Seeing through the trees.
The Dirty Words: Seeing through the trees.
At times during the past two years, it seemed that there was only one indie rock band in Bend. Well, let's just say there was only one indie rock band playing shows in the city. While there were plenty of burgeoning, still-in-the-garage acts, it seemed the Dirty Words were the only band that would actually play a steady line of shows.

But in the last year, the high school scene and the just-out-of-high-school set have come forward with a number of bands and other veteran groups have shored up their acts, and giving hope that there might be more to be found in Bend than roots rock, metal, bluegrass and, surprisingly, hip-hop. The influx of indie rock sounds is a splash of cold water to a face largely hung over from too much of the same and it's with that in mind that The Dirty Words release their debut full-length album, International Machine, which has been in the works for the better part of the past year.

Live, the Dirty Words are true to their name, unleashing gritty rockers often at jet engine volume and speed while blending punk tendencies with the highly emotive lyrical style of front man David Clemmer - this is best heard on the track "Damn Jacket." But on International Machine, the band is at its best when they let things run clean. And this means no rainstorm of distortion. No thundering of Chastain's drum kit. No whirling guitar showcases - okay, maybe a few spotlighted guitars booms come through on these cleaner tracks.

"Winter" finds itself in the middle of the record, splitting up the nine tracks nicely with Clemmer's ballad-esque, hyper emotional vocals and lyrics played over a smooth delivery from the rest of the band. It is entirely possible to step into the middle of this track and mistake it for something off of Madman Across the Water. The Dirty Words probably never set out to create something that could be mistaken for Elton John, but whatever you think of Elton, this is a compliment to Clemmer's explosive vocal range. When I catch up with Chastain, I'm apprehensive to bring up the Elton comparison (you don't hear many indie rockers list Elton John as an influence) but end up mentioning it anyway. Chastain busts into laughter.

"Oh man, I've joked with Dave that ["Winter"] sounds like an Elton John song," Chastain says. "He even told me he had a dream where I was chiding him about it."

The band showcases the slowdown again on "Sex is a Secret" and "Pill of Offering" - and both of these ride again on Clemmer's voice, but also showcase the tightness of a band that sometimes is delightfully sloppy when they want to be.

"It's definitely a little bit of a mix bag," Chastain says of the album, "There's a lot of sound in it because we really like the quiet, but we don't mind getting loud."

The Dirty Words are rolling out International Machine in style with a show featuring two of the more talked about local acts of this past year: the youthful indie rockers of Space Hoax and the hip-hop poetics of the super-duo Mosley Wotta. Then, the band very well might return to the studio before planning a tour as Chastain says they have about two more albums of material to lay down. And who knows, perhaps some more work in the studio will keep the Elton John comparisons from haunting Clemmer's dreams.

The Dirty Words, Mosely Wotta, Space Hoax

8pm Friday, November 14. PoetHouse Art. 55 NW Minnesota Ave (above the Wine Shop). $5. All ages. The International Machine is for sale at Ranch Records and


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