Packin' Some Rock-and-Roll Flames

The Glasspack
Dirty Women (Small Stone Records)

By Tim Roberts

It was sometime in the early 1970s when head shops were as prevalent in shopping centers as Starbucks (these were stores that sold the odd combination of pagers and cigars, so you wouldn't miss a call as you puffed on a Churchill). They'd be square in between your mom's beauty shop and the dime store, with names like "Buddha's Navel" or "The Velvet Daisy" in big, squishy letters on a hand-painted sign over the entrance. Their windows tinted over. The store's content a mystery to the squares who walked by.

Inside, the glass counter was filled with little ceramic pipes (stuff you'd seen in your health textbook's chapter on drug abuse) and incense burners. One room was floor-to-ceiling with black light posters. There might be a small rack of records in one corner. The guy behind the counter was always glad to see you.

And there would always be music you had never heard before from speakers that you could never see. Loud guitars that screamed as if they were being flogged with flaming whips. It was relentless. Fuzzed out and distorted. The sound was so otherworldly. It augmented the danger and how daring you felt to go inside the place because you knew your parents would probably skin you alive if they found out you were there. That's the kind of music you'll find in Dirty Women, the latest from Louisville's The Glasspack.

While it doesn't have the fangs-out rage of a lot of heavy metal, the material on Dirty Women has more of an amped-up blues sound, suited for the dilapidated roadhouse on a back road than a Goth club converted from an old factory. Or even the head shops from 30 years ago.

The otherworldly blues sound is cut into the opening track "Taming of the Ram," which stars with the sound of old LP scratches and blues guitar before it explodes into a scorching rock guitar and triphammer drums. Two instrumentals, "Fastback" and "Super Sport," glisten with cruisin' machine testosterone and the band takes a stab at failed redemption with the Almighty in the wittily titled "Ice Cream, But No Reply." The epic "Louisiana Strawberry" is the next-to-final selection on Dirty Women, a dirty, blues-rock journey that climaxes in a final chord that takes nearly four minutes and all kinds of noise iterations to fade out completely.

There's no guessing what you're in for with Dirty Women when you study the cover art: a Plymouth muscle car parked in front of a pile of skulls, with a busty woman in a short skirt, stockings, red ankle-strap heels, an arrow-tipped tail curled out from behind her, leaning into the car's passenger window. Like the head shops from more than 30 years ago beckoning curious youth into their doors, Dirty Women is loud, seductive.

And it feels dangerous.

Feel the danger at www.theglasspack.com.