Monday, October 11, 2010

Rocktober Album #7: Various Artists - Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit (2001)

Back in the late '90s and early '00s, Detroit was a stronghold of garage rock, led, of course, by The White Stripes. Before Jack White was trying to knock out Jason Stollsteimer of The Von Bondies, White decided at some point that he needed to showcase the great rock and roll that was coming from his city, so he put together this compilation, which features The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, The Dirtbombs, The Detroit Cobras, and Soledad Brothers, among others. All the songs were recorded by White in the same room on the same eight-track. Bear in mind that this album came out before The White Stripes had released White Blood Cells, so Jack White was far from a household name at this time. He was just getting a bunch of bands together to record a sweet compilation.

I discovered this album when I was in law school. I used to listen to a lot of internet radio while studying, and VH1 had a great garage rock station that played a lot of the songs from this album (as well as a lot of other songs by the artists on the album).

The album has a great retro, lo-fi vibe. Many of the songs sound like they could have been recorded in the '60s (like good garage rock often does), and there is not a bad song on the album. In addition to full length songs, many of the bands record blues interludes, which are anywhere between 20 seconds and a minute long. All in all, it's a very solid introduction to Detroit's garage rock scene.

Sadly, there were only two songs on, so I didn't bother making an embedded album. Amazon does not have any CDs in stock, but it is available for MP3 download at a mere $8.99 for the album. You can hear clips of the songs there or on Last FM.

1. Black Girl by The Paybacks
This is probably my favorite song on the album. It's a solid, catchy rock song about a white guy who is in love with black woman.

2. Payback Blues by The Paybacks
This is a nice little blues ditty.

3. Dirtbomb Blues by The Dirtbombs
This blues interlude is dirty and fuzzy.

4. I'm Through With White Girls by The Dirtbombs
Apparently these bands were not into Caucasians back in the early years of the new millennium. The narrator in this one comes to his conclusion while watching Soul Train, during which he falls asleep and has dreams of dancing and such.

5. Accusatory by The Hentchmen
This song definitely sounds like it could have been recorded in someone's garage in about 1965 or 1966. It's got a solid riff, a backing organ, and gravelly vocals.

6. Black and Blue by Ko & The Knockouts
I really like this song. If you didn't know it was recorded in 2001, you might think it was some undiscovered girl group gem from the early '60s. Seriously, though, this could be a Leslie Gore song, if Leslie Gore really wanted to injure her ex-boyfriend.

7. Come One Blues by The Come Ons
This one sounds like a classic hockey arena organ song.

8. Sunday Drive by The Come Ons
This is another solid garage tune, with organs driving the soulful, girl group-y vocals.

9. Soledad Blues by Soledad Brothers
This sounds like it could be part of a Son House song. It's probably my favorite of the blues interludes.

10. Shaky Puddin' by Soledad Brothers
This is a solid, energetic blues-based rock song that makes you want to tap your feet. The harmonica is always a nice touch. An interesting note: Jack White and Dirtbombs drummer Ben Blackwell sing backing vocals.

11. Sound of Terror by The Von Bondies
This song is dark and brooding. I would describe the intro as swampy. The rest of the song is full of eerie guitars and vocals. For some reason, this song reminds me of what Alice Cooper might sound like if he had been in a psychedelic fuzzed-out garage rock band.

12. High Class by The Buzzards
"High Class" features slightly angry vocals and a toe-tapping beat. It's another solid garage rock song.

13. Shout Bama Lama by The Detroit Cobras
This is one of my favorites on the album. The Detroit Cobras are another female-fronted band, and they cover songs from their record collections (mostly '50s and '60s songs), adding their own Detroit garage flavor to each song. This one is an Otis Redding cover, and it's nice and energetic. I like lead singer Rachel Nagy's voice. She sounds like a sarcastic girl group singer. Also, apparently she used to be a stripper, so that's cool.

14. Banty Rooster Blues by Bantam Rooster
This is the longest of the blues interludes, and to me, it sounds the most like classic Chicago electric blues out of the interludes.

15. Run Rabbit Run by Bantam Rooster
"Run Rabbit Run" is a frenzied, fuzzy song with a great driving beat and screaming, relatively incoherent vocals. It's a great song for when you're chasing rabbits.

16. Whiskey 'n Women by The Clone Defects
This one is a little darker, and it's yet another one that sounds like it could have been made in the late '60s. The subject matters are two of my favorites. Of course, the song is about how both of those things are causing the death of the narrator.

17. Decal On My Sticker by Whirlwind Heat
This is the weirdest song on the album. For the most part, it's just a fuzzed-out repeating bass riff accompanying vocals saying "decal on my sticker" over and over again. Every now and then, a guitar breaks in with a raunchy riff or two.

18. Red Death at 6:14 by The White Stripes
The White Stripes know how to play garage blues rock, and this song is no exception. It's a rollicking blues song with fuzzy guitars, pounding drums, a wailing harmonica, and Jack's high-pitched vocals.

19. Buzzard Blues by The Buzzards
The final blues interlude (more of a coda, really) sounds like it might have some backwards guitars or something. Hell, I don't know.

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