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The Dishes

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  1. 1.
    Use Your Arms
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  2. 2.
    Action Woman
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  3. 3.
    Feel It
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    H2O
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    Fishnets
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In 1994, Kiki Yablon decided to learn how to play the guitar. After being taught the first line of Rocket From the Crypt's "Hippy Diddy Do," she decided she could tackle the instrument.
Yablon was booking shows at Chicago's Empty Bottle, a neighborhood bar known for booking top garage and punk acts as well as avant-garde jazz artists, and it was there she met Sarah Staskauskas, who tended bar at the club. Staskauskas had previously played in Cherry Rodriguez with Maureen Herman, who later went on to play in Babes in Toyland. Yablon and Staskauskas shared a mutual love for bands like the Slits and Wire and used their influences to form the Dishes, who, along with the Nerves, became one of Chicago's better-known garage punk acts in the late '90s.
The initial lineup, with Yablon on guitar, Staskauskas on lead guitar and vocals, Kari McGlinnen on bass, and Leroy Bach on drums, played some sloppy shows around town for the next few years. Then McGlinnen went on to play bass for alt-country artist Chris Mills and Bach, who had previously done bass work for Liz Phair and later would play keyboards for Wilco, left the Dishes for 5ive Style. Yablon and Staskauskas, however, were learning that they had a similar vision for what the band should be and Yablon became a strong enough guitarist to play fast. The two recruited Sharon Maloy, who had done some time in Bender with comic writer Jessica Abel and some salsa with Trenchmouth's Fred Armisen, and also brought in drummer Rick Gasparini. With this lineup, the Dishes went in to the studio and laid down seven tracks which would account for more than half of the band's self-titled debut record. The songs were curt and powerful and drew some comparisons to Sleater-Kinney, which is accurate only in the sharp and inventive guitar work of Staskauskas, as the Dishes have a strong melodic drive and plenty of shout-along choruses. The effect is more like Wire filtered through Chicago's Naked Raygun.
Yet the Dishes would soon need a new drummer. Out went Gasparini and in came Kim Ambriz, who recorded six songs with the band. With 13 tracks recorded, Yablon started No. 89 Records and put out the Dishes in March 2000. Yablon, by the way, was now editing the music section of the Chicago Reader. And then Ambriz quit, leaving the Dishes for Bees Are Black. She was replaced for six months by Graeme Gibson, and within a little more than a year of releasing the Dishes, the record had turned a profit. Then Gibson left the Dishes for the Aluminum Group. In 2000, drummer J.J Klein, formerly of L.A.'s Paper Lantern, joined Yablon and Staskauskas' band. ~ Todd Martens, Rovi

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