Until recently, Detroit’s highest profile musical ambassadors have been a deluded hillbilly-pimp and a bunch of grease-painted, rapping dipshits. But for those that have the ears to listen, Detroit is where a glorious catch-all mix of raw soul, ol’ devil blues and garage rock is in the loud n’ messy process of being born. While others sprayed soda, the creeps and weirdos in the Motor City dug deeper and tapped into their hometown’s centuries-long legacy of murder, arson, desperation and alcoholism, and distilled it into a sweaty, guitar-raunch groove. The last year has seen your local rock n’ roll record store deluged by a bunch of staggering, house-shaking records that turn sex, anger, death and desire into something you can dance to. Records that might get your sorry ass laid. Records so damn fine, in fact, that you almost want to move to the town and help destroy their scene.
Detroit is back on top of the rockpile again for dozens of good reasons, but here’s my personal top five.
1 Mick Collins:
is black. No surprise to him or his parents, but you might be interested in knowing that the godfather of the modern Detroit scene, who recorded with and produced countless bands including the seminal Gories (check out anything they did for Crypt) and his current project The Dirtbombs (new record Ultraglide in Black out now on In The Red records), is an honest-to-goodness Nubian. Probably gets a lot of shit for not “acting black” from ig’nint honkies and negroes.
2 Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit (Sympathy for the Record Industry):
sums up everything I was supposed to say in this article. A musical version of the words “Detroit is back.” A Cliffs Notes of the best Detroit bands currently making fools of themselves on stages here, there and everywhere. Includes the soon-to-be classic “I’m Through With White Girls” by The Dirtbombs, in addition to songs by Bantam Rooster, The Clone Defects, The Buzzards, The White Stripes and so on.
3 The White Stripes:
By now, even your mom knows the words to “Hello Operator,” but your moms is a hip, hip lady. Two great records on the eerily ubiquitous Sympathy label and a bunch of raunchy, tuneful singles that can mean only one thing: frontman Jack White sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for bubblegum-blues mastery.
4 The Detroit Cobras:
Their new record Life, Love and Leaving (again, Sympathy for the Record Industry) finds ‘em rocking out a bunch of covers of soul tunes of the 60s. From the slightly familiar “Cry On” to the obscure “Shout Bama Lama,” originally done by Otis Redding’s first band The Pinetoppers. This shit smolders, smokes, and never comes off as a joke (plus the singer’s pretty).
5 Sympathy for the Record Industry and In The Red Records:
For some cosmically strange reason the best records from Detroit are, for the most part, being released on these two labels based in Southern California. Do you care? Do I care? No, just look ‘em both up. Don’t make the mistake of buying anything and everything from these guys, though: being record labels, they release a lot of albums that are complete horseshit. I know it sounds ridiculous but stick to Detroit and everything will be allroit.