Charm and hammer from Dirty Panties

It’s nearing 7 p.m. at the Panty Lair on a recent Wednesday evening and the enthusiasm is palpable.

“Are we rambling on?” asks Barbara Lenox, founder and guitarist for Vegas punks the Dirty Panties, flanked by two of her bandmates, singer Melanie Ash and bassist Michelle “Lil’ Moe” Meyer, as well as a cute striped kitty with a flat face that looks as if someone whapped it in the muzzle with a frying pan.

They’re all visibly stoked about the band’s new disc, “I Am A Robot” – except for said cat, who mostly sleeps on a nearby coffee table.

Their excitement is warranted.

“Robot,” the Panties’ first CD in six years and second overall, is a blast of equally catchy and cutting anti-anthems evocative of the cheekily profane charge of the late, great Lunachicks.

“Something powerful is balling up inside me,” Ash sings on “Overt,” and that sentiment could be applied to the band as a whole.

“Robot” marks the recording debut of the Panties’ current lineup, which is rounded out by drummer Kayley “Animal” Malcolm, and they’ve greatly tightened the reins on their once deliberately ragged, four-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust sound.

“When we started the band, I didn’t know how to play guitar. I literally had the band before I knew the instrument,” says Lenox, sitting on a couch in the living room of her home, which doubles as the Panties’ rehearsal spot. “We’ve had time to learn how to play our instruments and how to write a song.”

The Panties’ debauched charm is still present on “Robot,” with two-minute jams about getting drunk and starting fights. But they’ve clearly grown musically and lyrically, too, with songs such as the aforementioned “Overt” and the album’s title track exploring moodier musical terrain and weightier themes.

“We’re looking at it a little more seriously,” Ash says.

“It was so overdue,” Meyer adds.

“Robot” is the Panties’ first release with new Vegas-based label SquidHat Records, which is trying to give the band a much stronger promotional push than they’ve had previously, even sending them to Japan next summer to tour.

For now, the Panties have a CD release show Friday at the Double Down where they’ll play “Robot” in its entirety.

The band might have been started more than a decade ago, but it still feels like they’re starting anew.

“This is a great place to launch off from; this is a great album to get moving with,” Ash says. “I’m really excited to see where we go.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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