DETROIT REBELLION – Detroit Rebellion ’67 EP

DR67In the first quarter of 2013, blues duo Detroit Rebellion (once again, not from Detroit) dropped a release that captured a real sense of energy and grit.  Across it’s four songs vocalist/guitarist Jeff Toste and drummer Mikey Lams proved themselves worthy of standing alongside other similar duos.  It’s more than fair to say – at least on the lion’s share of the material – with regard to their swiftly delivered follow up ‘Detroit Rebellion of ’67, those who loved ‘Fork In The Road’ will find more to love here, while those unmoved by lo-fi blues sounds remain equally unmoved.  You’re either with the Rebels or you’re not – and if two men tackling the lo-fi blues is your bag, man, you’ve come to the right place.

‘Some of the Time, Some Other Time’ is a tune showing the duo at their outright dirtiest. While the backbeat is hugely simplistic, the huge one-two punch of the drum is mostly all that’s required to lend a feeling of toughness.  Meanwhile frontman Jeff Toste throws out a natural and gritty vocal a few words at a time, before things shift towards a more typical, fuller sound with the vocals fuzzed up and a discordant guitar thrashes through a classic garage blues riff.  ‘Dark Lady’ is raw in an entirely different way; although much more tuneful, the rawness comes from the primitive recording technique – two guys, live in a room jamming their grooves.  As far as the song is concerned, it has the tone of a ramshackle blues band tackling something which sounds like a Duane Eddy riff played by Billy Chidish’s Chatham Singers.  Lurking within the reverb is a tune which has a surprisingly catchy edge – thanks in no small part to that riff.

That stripped back simplicity carries through to ‘Speak Your Mind’, a tune heavy on lead guitar twang and a relatively clear vocal.  The twang – somewhere between Eddy and the revivalist tones of Chris Isaak’s ‘Baby Did a Bad Thing’ shows The Detroit Rebellion know how to lay down something with a real sense of attitude without relying on force to do so.  Great stuff, indeed.  Bringing something slightly different to the Rebels sounds again, the title cut breezes along with a uncommon lightness.  Drummer Mike Lamantia attacks his simple drum set up in a style that has a great deal more flair, creating a sound that settles somewhere between the rattling of a freight train and a jazz exercise.  The bounce in his rhythm carries the whole piece and Toste goes equally all out, laying down a mean guitar that’s part staccato edginess and a touch of slide blues.  All the while, his reverbed voice adds a sense of threat.  While not as direct as most of DT’s material, its undeniable energy makes it just as exciting for sure.

Is this better than ‘Fork In The Road’? Quite possibly.  You want fuzz, groove and a whole world of blues? ‘67’ has it all. In addition, the EP format seems to work especially well with regard to this kind of lo-fi grooviness, allowing the listener just enough time to get hyped up, without the band ever feeling like they’re repeating themselves.   ‘The Detroit Rebellion ’67’ may not speak to the unconverted, but it’s four tunes are well executed – and rather more varied than such a basic sub-genre would normally deliver.  “Some they call it a riot”, indeed.

June 2013