Music Reviews

POW Magazine Reviews The Routes- Dirty Needles & Pins

Living in the remote mountains of Japan may get lonely for Chris Jacks, the one man band behind The Routes, but it seems to have a benefit for us fans- after only 8 months, The Routes have released a second album- Dirty Needles & Pins, out today via Greenway Records.

Despite the quick turn-around between albums, Dirty Needles & Pins is a fully formed effort. The album showcases a more definitive sound for The Routes- holding on to some of the psychedelia from their previous release In This Perfect Hell, along with all of the angst and aggression within the songs’ themes, Dirty Needles & Pins adds a harder edge all throughout; along with bits of freakbeat, frat rock, and wild garage punk. This new release also moves more fluidly from song to song, with a clear musical path from beginning to end.

The first half of Dirty Needles & Pins is overflowing with aggression- opening with “You’ll See”, a snotty, fuzzed-up, garage punk scorcher with a dizzying guitar line and a chant-along chorus chocked full of spite. The following 3 tracks on the album’s A side keep the rock goin, and keep the chip on the band’s shoulder- each track’s lyrics are full of disdain and contempt for their subject, throughout the freakbeat stomps of “Ego A Go-Go”, the acid-rock of “I Ain’t Convinced”, and the psych/frat rock grooves of “Somebody’s Child”. The final track of the album’s A side, “Dysphoria”, is a searing, guitar-heavy track and also “quite possibly the first ever transgender garage rock anthem”.

The familiar psychedelia from In This Perfect Hell returns in the new album’s second half. The B side of Dirty Needles & Pins opens with “All I Find”- featuring haunting organ riffs a la Arthur Brown or The 13th Floor Elevators, echoing choruses and scattered slices of dizzying guitar solos, this track sets the tone for the album’s second half and makes it clear that all the lo-fi, rough-edged sounds of the A side have given way to more carefully crafted, refined tracks. “My Hardened Skin” brings the pace up a final time before the album closes with “No Return”, an ultra-heavy final sendoff full of mind-melting, inescapable reverb that finishes in a flurry of drumwork.

Dirty Needles & Pins impresses, not only for being released so quickly after The Routes’ first release, but also for being almost entirely the work of one man- Chris Jacks is responsible for everything except the drums, which are played by Jonathan Hillhouse. The Routes’ sophomore release makes an stronger impression than their first- and don’t just take our word for it! Rodney Bingenheimer has already started playing tracks from Dirty Needles & Pins on his new Sirius radio show, and The Routes currently hold the title of his most played Japanese band.

Watch the official video for “Somebody’s Child”, the first single release from Dirty Needles & Pins:

Get your copy of Dirty Needles & Pins (Available on far out, splatter vinyl!) here:

Follow The Routes here:

Written By Sheena Salazar for POW Magazine

Sheena Moore was raised in a rock n roll household- almost everything cool that she knows she learned from her dad. She spent some time playing organ and bass in bands, but stopped to pursue a career in fashion, both as a model and a designer. Sheena has always been extremely passionate about both music and fashion, particularly from the 60s era. Her enthusiasm for music as well as her connections to music scenes all over the west coast led her to joining the POW team in 2016, writing record reviews and covering shows such as Portland’s Nuggets Night. She currently splits her time between her day job at a bra company, working as a model, and writing for POW. Sheena resides in Portland, OR but she’s constantly traveling all over the west coast, and tries to find record stores, vintage shops and hip live shows wherever she goes.