1938104535-1This release from Rhode Island’s Detroit Rebellion offers four tunes of garage blues with a cool, live in the studio sound.  While the simplistic approach at the heart of the subgenre usually relies on plenty of slide guitar antics with which to engage the audience, these guys are a little different. Yes, they have slide guitar, but it doesn’t always provide the dominant feature. They may not have the upbeat rock ‘n’ blues grooves of Black Pistol Fire; nor do they ever go for the jugular in the way that first two Dead Exs records do, but in their understated way, these four tunes have their own sense of attitude, something heightened further by the basic recording techniques.

The relatively upbeat ‘Fork In The Road’ combines a shuffling drum part laying down the groove, complimented by de-tuned slide guitar.  The overall vibe is loose and very natural, with Jeff Toste (also of Laurels) adopting a hushed vocal style which he combines with a tuneful whistle.  Eventually, the vocal takes second place to Mikey Lams’s drum part; soon, the solid combination of downtuned slide guitar and almost locomotive drumming becomes captivating.  Tapping into a bluesier thang, ‘Dirty Boots’ slows things down and a looser rhythm backs a reverbed guitar, often offering just singular plucked notes.  A dirtier groove cuts through for the chorus, but while this represents the loudest end of the duo’s music, there’s still a stronger sense of atmosphere than some blues duos offer.

‘Fire, Devil and Desire’ combines the best elements of the previous two numbers, driven by a driving blues rock riff. Similar in pace and attitude to The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’, only reinterpreted by a lo-fi genius, this is the Rebellion at perhaps their most user-friendly.   Best of all, ‘Nothing To Lose’ wins through an very minimalist approach.  The guitar twangs over a blues/jazz drum – again with a natural live sound – while the soft but oddly sinister voice is drenched in reverb.  Although not as tight, there’s the tiniest spirit of Mark Sandman’s pre-Morphine band Treat Her Right echoing through the piece – a passing influence which is certainly welcome –as the duo bring a sense of mild threat without ever resorting to aggression or loudness of any kind.

Detroit Rebellion could have cut a niche tackling a more forceful blues groove like their peers, but that’d be easy – perhaps a bit too easy.  Instead, by leaving the listener with relatively dour tunes – parting with the most downbeat, making that the lasting memory as the music fades – this EP soon uncovers its own sense of spooky ’tude.  …And if you dig that, there’s music here with which they’ll certainly pull you in and (hopefully) keep you listening.

February 2013