The Dwarves

Picture of Dwarves

Blood Guts & Pussy

Dwarves - Blood Guts & Pussy ©1990 Subpop
1. Back Seat of my Car
2. Detention Girl
3. Let's Fuck
4. Drug Store
5. Skin Poppin' Slut
6. Fuck You Up and Get High
7. Insect Whore
8. Flesh Tantrum
10. What Hit You
11. Motherfucker
12. Fuckhead

The Dwarves entered the 1990s by putting out an album that surely should have gone straight to the top of the PMRC's "most offensive" list, except that Tipper Gore's political vehicle had mostly run out of gas by then. Featuring an infamous cover of two lovely naked girls and a dwarf all splattered in blood, Blood Guts & Pussy is a testament to decadence and pure immorality in music.

That's also precisely why it rocks.

Losing any shred of subtlety for Blood Guts & Pussy, the Dwarves blast through thirteen songs in less than thirteen minutes. Howver, the Minutemen they are not. The Dwarves' attack is straight ahead and armed with as much musical subterfuge as a pitbull gnawing on your groin. The songs cover such topics as fornication, improper relations with minors, drugs and immoral relations with minors after doing drugs. But seriously, did you expect this band to explore the Iran Contra affair in great melodic detail? The fact that the band keeps each song blisteringly short is smart. This record is amusing, but partly because they don't take up thirty or forty minutes of your time discussing the sordid details of their juvenile fantasies.

More than a few bands have attempted this template of punk rock, but very, very few succeed in being so fully engulfed in debauchery and still bring the rock. This is a record any punk fan should own, but even if you're well over thirty or even forty, you probably should still hide it from your mom.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2009

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Thank Heaven For Little Girls

Dwarves - Thank Heaven For Little Girls ©1991 Subpop
1. Thank Heaven For Little Girls
2. Satan
3. Speed Demon
4. Blood Brothers Revenge
5. Blag the Ripper
6. Lucky Tonight
7. Who's Fucking Who
8. Fuck 'em All
9. Anybody But Me
10. Three Seconds
11. Fuck Around
12. Dairy Queen
13. Johnny Glue

Clocking in at nearly twenty minutes, the Dwarves pack more music into Thank Heaven For Little Girls than any Iron Butterfly release out there. Following up on the general themes of debauchery, hedonism, perversion, Satan and general naughtiness, this album serves as an efficient follow up to Blood Guts and Pussy but doesn't necessarily blow the doors off the barn in the process. You can hear a degree of musical proficiency slipping into the affair. The music still dwells in high speed three chord punk with occasional old time rock flavoring ("Fuck Around" has a hint of 50s Happy Days music), though it doesn't often really hit the nail on the head with true blunt force. When the band does hit on all cylinders, such as "Fuck 'em All" (where Blag Dahlia details the various locales and situations where he's had carnal relations, presumably with little girls), the music is catchy and full of entirely demented fun.

Although Thank Heaven For Little Girls is a perfunctory Dwarves record, it doesn't capture the band at their all time manic best. They get a few points for liberal sprinklings of the "F-bomb" but beyond that, I'd rather point you towards other Dwarves records for some of their more inspired material.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2009

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Dwarves - Sugarfix ©1993 Subpop
1. Anybody Out There
2. Evil Primeval
3. Reputation
4. Lies
5. Saturday Night
6. New Orleans
7. Action Man
8. Smack City
9. Cain Novacaine
10. Underworld
11. Wish That I Was Dead

In 1993, the Dwarves released Sugarfix along with pulling a prank on their record label. On the inside booklet, the band printed a photo of guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named with his year of birth and his year of "death". Of course, this was merely wacky hijinks. However, Subpop, their label at the time, was not amused one bit and ultimately dropped them from the label. Perhaps they were also discovering the Dwarves weren't going to soar to the stratosphere alongside Soundgarden and Nirvana, but it was pretty obvious the confrontational, hedonistic punk band wasn't not a match for a label better known for grunge and passive aggressive flannel wearing pretend-lumberjacks.

Lost in all the controversy (though I personally think a prank like that should be deemed "amusing", not "controversial") was Sugarfix. The album moves away from the blatantly offensive covers and tones down the lyrical content. Somewhat. Blag Dahlia is not the type of singer who will present us with songs about postive mental attitude and wax philosophic about time spent on this mortal coil. Sugarfix instead presents itself more as a grittier sidestreet to the pop punk trend that was beginning to gain momentum around that time. The opening song actually hits the three minute mark, though more than a few songs hover around the minute mark. Sugarfix lacks some of the edge of your seat aggressiveness of the previous two albums as the band slowly polished up their sound.

The Dwarves would end up taking a few years off after being dropped by Subpop and would return with a much more shined up sound and approach. Sugarfix falls between their past debauchery and their future "professional" sound (which also happens to be where I think they really kick down the barn doors and rock out) and ultimately ends up being a somewhat forgettable album. It's enjoyable but nothing that stands out in their discography, aside from the faked demise of He Who Cannot Be Named.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2009

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The Dwarves Are Young And Good Looking

Dwarves - Are Young and Good Looking ©1997 Epitaph
1. Unrepentant
2. We Must Have Blood
3. I Will Deny
4. Demonica
5. Everybodies Girl
6. Throw That World Away
7. Hits
8. The Ballad of Vadge Moore
9. One Time Only
10. Pimp
11. The Crucifixion is Now
12. You Gotta Burn
13. Bonus track

After their 1993 stunt where the Dwarves faked the death of their guitarist, Subpop, their label at the time, unceremoniously dropped the band from their roster. It was four years before the Dwarves resurfaced, this time on punk rock's mega label Epitaph. The Dwarves reincarnation found the act growing up, or at least sounding like better musicians while delivering their rather hilarious juvenile and debauched lyrics. Combing much stronger musicianship with hooky pop tendencies, The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking is a major step forward for this band. It was obviously a new era for the band and one that I find much more impressive than their earlier garage punk.

The most notable aspect of the "new" Dwarves is that the songwriting has a bit more variety and even allows for songs to last longer than two minutes. Vocalist Blag Dahlia sounds much more confident in his delivery. It still oozes hedonism, but in a catchy way. For those concerned the band might lose their raucous energy, one listen to "I Will Deny" should easily dispel those worries. And while this album could fall into that dreaded pop-punk category due to its inherent catchy nature, the band sidesteps the subgenre's rigid formula. No one is going to confuse Pennywise with the Dwarves any time soon.

Since the album cover features a topless girl in a ski mask and the band still spends much of their waking hours thinking about things parental groups shun, the Dwarves haven't completely abandoned their roots. Sure, they might be more mature as musicians, but they merely added a layer of musical integrity to their debased worldview. This is an entirely catchy and thoroughly fun record that is far better than most of their punk brethren of the era.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2009

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Come Clean

Dwarves - Come Clean ©2000 Epitaph
1. How It's Done
2. River City
3. Over You
4. Way Out
5. Come Where The Flavor Is
6. Deadly Eye
7. Better Be Women
8. I Want You To Die
9. Johnny On The Spot
10. Accelerator
11. Act Like You Know
12. Production Value

The Dwarves - love em or hate em, one can not deny the longevity of creator and visionary Blag Dahlia's musical career. First recording his raunchy brand of garage rock under the Dwarves moniker in 1983, Blag and his now legendary Dwarves are still at it (albeit after several line-up changes and a few evolutions in sound).

Come Clean, the Dwarves eighth full-length release, builds upon the formula displayed by its 1997 predecessor, The Dwarves Are Young And Good Looking. Focusing on the latters beefy production and power pop hooks, Come Clean refines the Dwarves catchy songwriting skills while adding a few new elements to the mix. Toss in co-producer Eric Valentine's experienced production skills (Valentine has also produced albums for the likes of such "well-known" artists as Smashmouth and Third Eye Blind) and the end result is a very enjoyable, even somewhat innovative album.

The album opener "How It's Done" is a quirky, catchy intro piece with allusions to hip-hop throughout it's lyrical content (though it's easily distinguishable that the Dwarves are laughing at certain aspects of hip-hop lyricism, not with). From here on, Come Clean shifts through several different styles - hardcore, elements of techno, sugary pop - key elements of which serve to only make this album even more enjoyable. "River City" and "I Want You To Die" easily rank as two of the Dwarves heaviest, most hardcore-laden tracks to date. "River City" is especially impressive, the violent lyricism combining with Blag's ultra heavy vocal approach giving it that "authentic" sounding edge. And while the aformentioned track is pure vile on vinyl, the half metallic, half techno inspired "Over You" seems just the opposite. Definitely one of the highlights of the album, "Over You" successfully manages to mix punk, metal, and techno/dance music style sounds during its verse sections, while breaking off to an incredibly catchy chorus in which an almost heartfelt-sounding Blag laments "Over you/How can I ever get over you", proving that even "tough guys" like the Dwarves experience the hardships and hang-ups of putting former relationship(s) into the past.

While Come Clean is certainly an enjoyable album and an improvement upon its predecessor, it's not without its share of imperfections. "Deadly Eye" and "Act Like You Know", already somewhat average tracks to begin with, contain unnecessary break-down sections which only serve to take away from their original value, thus rendering them as nothing more than filler. "Come Where the Flavor Is" also comes to mind as being a bit repetitive and lackluster. All in all, though, I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with "Come Clean". "Better Be Women" and "Production Value", if stripped of their thematic/lyrical approach, could possibly be found on FM stations from coast to coast as they each possess an irresistably high degree of catchiness. "Johnny On the Spot" and "Accelerator" are both clever, quirky tracks, the latter with a slide guitar chorus conjuring up images of Blag's "Earl Lee Grace" alter-ego (for those who are unaware, Blag recorded a bluegrass album under the moniker Earl Lee Grace in 1995).

Evolving from swampy garage rock in the early to mid eighties, pre-grunge punk in the early nineties, the 00's find the Dwarves still innovative and exciting in a genre that is all too often unoriginal and lackluster. And while I would not place Come Clean in my all time top ten list, I would say that it is one of the most solid punk releases of the past few years, and comparable to, if not, the best Dwarves material to date.

Review by Mike Rutherford

Review date: 08/2001

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The Dwarves Must Die

Dwarves - The Dwarves Must Die ©2004 Sympathy For The Record Industry
1. Bleed On
2. Fefu
3. Salt Lake City
4. Dominator
5. Demented
6. Blast
7. Like You Want
8. Relentless
9. Massacre
10. Runaway No. 2
11. Go!
12. Another Classic
13. Christ On A Mic
14. Downey Junior
15. The Dwarves Must Die

Considering the Dwarves' penchant for wild stage antics, hilarious publicity stunts (ie: faking their guitarist's death which resulted in getting kicked off Subpop) and all around debauchery, it's hard to believe that nearly twenty years after their inception, they're still a very relevant band. What is more impressive is that the band has progressed from their garage band days into one of the more musically adept bands around.

The 21st century has shown the Dwarves to be much more than just some three chord shock rock band. 2000's Come Clean was one of the best albums of that year, mixing variety of styles into their full throttle punk assault. Now, for 2004, the Dwarves have expanded upon that with The Dwarves Must Die, which injects even more stylistic deviations into their music. Deviously catchy songs like "Salt Lake City" coexist next to rappish rock song like "Massacre" (wherein the Dwarves throw some stones at various contemporary alt-rock stars). "Christ on a Mic" gets downright choral and angelic (in context). But fear not, the band also has plenty of straight ahead assaults on your ears. What The Dwarves Must Die has done is refine their sound, given the production a full dose of power and expanded upon previous efforts.

While the Dwarves continue to fly below the radar, their last couple of albums have turned out to be some of the most rocking and fun of the last few years. Their appeal crosses genres and gets a hearty recommendation.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2005

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