It certainly hasn't been easy. The band also saw their high profile drummer Eddie Baranek leave in order to concentrate on his reformed Sights. His parting gift, however, was to lay down the drums on half of these songs, as well as helping to write nine of them. And his influence can be heard everywhere; Baranek is a self-confessed Anglophile, as any Sights fan can attest, and there's a definite Brit-invasion feel to Stop Don't / Yes — from its opening "All Tied Up" through the extremely Paul Weller-influenced "Find A Way" to the beautiful melancholy of "It's Killing Me".
Vocalist Dennis Miriani, impressive to begin with, has improved in the last 18 months to a point where Weller isn't an implausible comparison. Musically, the band is faultless. They were perhaps guilty of filling up the tracks a little too much on their EP; here they're happy to subscribe to the "less is more" philosophy when the song calls for it.
When the band isn't venting frustrations, their cheeky sense of humor is a genuine joy, such as on "Always Doing Something," which contains the line "She's always doing something but she won't do me."
In the face of tragedy, when they could have been forgiven for folding, Spitting Nickels have risen up and come into their own as a real, quality Detroit rock band. One suspects that's all they really ever wanted in the first place.
Spitting Nickels' CD release party is Saturday, April 10, at the Majestic Café, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-0120. With Old Empire and the Crooks. Admission is $5 but $13 gets you both admission and the new CD.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].