See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Crank 

Reviews for the easily distracted

Jolie Holland & the Grand Chandeliers
Pint of Blood
Anti-

3 Stars

Riffing: Open, naked. Holland's voice is as persuasive as it gets at conveying overwhelming, aching regret.

Reference points: "Gold and Yellow" is like the strange isolated beauty of a small New Mexico town bookended by highway truck stops and vast landscapes. "All Those Girls" is CSN&Y's "Helpless" sideways (a good thing), and the lovely "Rex's Blues" gets inside Townes Van Zandt's personal futility.

If You Like: Victoria Williams, Neil Young, Judee Sill, Velvets ...

 

The Japanese Popstars
Controlling Your Allegiance
Astralwerks

2 Stars

Riffing: Say Sigue Sigue Sputnik were the New York Dolls of dance music — never getting proper due for launching misinterpreted unholy hell. JPS are the rising sons.

Reference points: Robert Smith-approved. You've likely heard JPS' Gorrillaz and Beyonce re-rubs, and the great "Sample Whore." They redid Daft Punk for the Tron remix album. "Catapult" is incorrigible and hypnotic — goddamnit!

If you like: Green Velvet, Kraftwerk, Sputnik, the Orb and laptop jackoffs.

 

Diamond Rings
Special Affections
Astralwerks

2 Stars

Riffing: Sometimes infectious bare-boned synthpop of the John Foxx, Human League and Visage variety by twentysomthing Toronto (new) romantic John O; sample lyric: "I run out of breath walking the fashion mile." "It's Not My Party" is the effective tearjerker.

Reference points: Rainbow dancefloors, dolled-up urban wear (!?) and blue-eyeshadowed boys with healthy senses of irony.

If you like: Robyn, early OMD, Gary Numan or any infuriatingly inescapable post-punk band whose singer aped Bowie.

 

 

The London Souls
The London Souls
Soul on 10

4 Stars

Riffing: The "Immigrant Song" riff kicks it off and includes a noodly nod to "War Pigs," and there's a cool "Taxman" tune too. Reggae-ified verses switch to heavy riff-out sing-alongs. Get it?

Reference points: NYC power trio heavy like Grand Funk Live and the rhythm section sometimes adores the Police and McCartney. Cred alert: It's produced by Ethan Johns at Abbey Road!

If you like: My Morning Jacket, Cream, Black Crowes, James Gang and panning guitar solos.

 

 

Frank Turner
England Keep My Bones
Epitaph

4 Stars

Riffing: Yes, acoustic and electric.

Reference points: Pathos with hooks and occasional bits of Oi-boy harmonizing. Very English, well-read rock 'n' roll, then. It toasts minimum wage, the Undertones, Dostoyevsky, Jerry Lee, Johnny Thunders, Davy Jones and the Bard, sometimes in the same line.

If you like: Drunken saints, spent poets, Billy Bragg, too many pints, and sad yarns in the spirit of punk rock.

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October 21, 2020

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