City Slang: Weekly music review roundup 

Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to [email protected]

Otto Vector’s No. 9 North sees the female-fronted band delving into the worlds of hard rock and electronica, and emerging with a sound that is both seamless and marketable. Incredibly radio-friendly and potentially commercial. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, therefore, it’s empty and disposable. These guys have managed to create something artistically impressive, and hooky. Johnny Rotten once said that melody is the biggest rip off in music. We know what he means, but he’s wrong. Music can be both melodic and honest. Otto Vector knows that.

The Howling DiablosReturn of the Funk Hand is a two-track single featuring the title track and “George Clinton got in my Car,” the latter co-written and featuring Sponge’s Vin Dombroski. In fact, there are some startling guests here, including Mary Cobra of the Detroit Cobras, the original Vandellas, and the MC5’s Wayne Kramer. The songs are superb; stylish, funky R&B with Tino’s smooth voice and a lot of excellent musicians having a great time. Lovely.

Carolyn Striho’s Word Attack is a true-to-form seven-track mini–album from Detroit’s rocker-turned-chanteuse. The title track has some driving guitar and sugary-pissed vocals, while “Always in my Heart” is an acoustic gem typical of contemporary Striho. She gets so carried away with her own tunes that the occasional moment of lyrical naivety is more than forgivable. Plus, “Enchante,” a staple of the live show for some time, is excellent.

Scott Dailey is both married to Carolyn Striho, and he plays guitar in her band. It’s no surprise, therefore, that every now and again he needs to do his own thing. So Much Time to Burn is his five-track solo EP, and it’s very, very good. “Game of Hearts” is the first track and also the best. It’s a husky, poignant rocker reminiscent of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”

Unlimited Head gave us their four-track CD-R at a recent show at the Loving Touch in Ferndale, after yours truly had missed their set. This sucks, because the CD is so good, I wish I had gotten their earlier. Punky, psychedelic, stoner rock played by some of the peeps from Warhorses. It’s all very echo-y and trippy, offering a college LSD experience without needing to take LSD or go to college. Hooray. Kick back, kids.

Dutch Pink’s Lady Luck Motal Suite (New Fortune) features guitarist Joel “Jelly Roll” McCune, but he left soon after recording was done so they’ll be touring without him. That’s a shame, because his work on this record is exemplary. Still, there’s much to love. Dustin Leslie’s vocals are throaty and gorgeous, backed beautifully by Aja Sardis and Serene Arena, resulting in a sound that’s reminiscent of early Seger, Tom Waits and even a little Leonard Cohen. These guys play bluesy rock, and they’re telling stories. The hooks are all there too. Great record.

Blaire Alise & the Bombshells’s Run & Hide will tell you exactly why we have this band in the City Slang column next week prior to the show at the New Dodge opening for Amy Gore’s Valentines and Clem Burke’s Split Squad. Bright and sassy, the band has regressed further into the ’60s and studied girl groups like the Shangri-Las and the Supremes closely. B-Side “Let Me Into Your Heart” has a rockabilly feel, and a contemporary edge. There’s more to come from these Bombshells.

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