The Dirty Nil's strong support of their debut album Higher Power over the last year has been seriously paying off, with several major tours under their belts and, now, a Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year on their trophy stand.
Their work leading up to that album continues to be a major part of their live shows, with fan favourites like "Fuckin' Up Young" anchoring each explosive set. Given the fact that the Dundas, Ontario band's back catalogue has been spread out across a handful of singles and EPs, it seems only fair that those tunes be assembled into a release that'll give them some due attention and revisitation.
All but one of the songs ("Caroline") on Minimum R&B have already appeared on a prior Dirty Nil release, but here they're packaged neatly in one record that flows better than you would expect, considering the source material spans several years (between 2010 and 2016) and different producers and studios. The album works chronologically from their rocking first single, to the grungy Little Metal Baby Fist seven-inch, to the semisweet "Cinnamon" to the teeth-baring punk-rock of "Nicotine" and the rest of the Smite EP. The new track "Caroline," meanwhile, adds a bluesy swing to their balls-to-the-wall onslaught of rock'n'roll.
As they always have and continue to do, the band bang and clang through catchy, overdriven tunes amid squealing feedback and a raw, live-off-the-floor quality that puts you right in the middle of a blaring but well-mixed garage jam. Taken together, it all feels a hell of a lot like the early days of Weezer and Nirvana — a cross between The Blue Album and Bleach. While it may be a perfect picture of where the Dirty Nil are now, it's also great at showing how they got here.
If you've been following the band and have already collected these songs in their original formats, Minimum R&B is a convenient combo pack. If you're a newcomer, it's a must-have entry point (followed compulsorily by the terrific Higher Power). It's also a reminder that the Dirty Nil have spent years now honing their natural gift for churning out pure, timeless rock'n'roll with a scarcely seen level of confidence and charisma, making them well worth their recent recognition as one of Canada's best young bands. (Dine Alone)