City Slang: 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]

Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky.

The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and actually quite sinister. The songs build and build to epic choruses that would sound quite at home on mainstream radio, as well as in the local dive haunts. The band is rare, in that it could appeal to just about anybody. There are nods to the past (is that a dab of Joy Division on “Living in the Country”?), but the band sounds very much a product of the here and now. Go see them at the Loving Touch on April 18, the launch show for this album, and see what we mean.

The DivesMagnificent Desolation was handed to me by frontman Ron McPherson at a recent Trash Brats show that this band opened up. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s new to me so I’m reviewing it. The title (I think) comes from the title of Buzz Aldrin’s biography, though the astronaut was speaking of the desolation of space while the Dives are referring to living in Detroit and stuff. Fair enough. Most importantly, these punk ditties are huge, catchy and well performed. If you can’t have fun with this shit, why bother?

Royal Oak singer/songwriter Dennis O’Leary’s Hope didn’t fill us with much of it when the CD first landed on our desk. The cover features O’Leary stood on the railroad tracks (yawn), in the snow so as to display a certain level of bleakness. Goddamn, it sucks. The music, thank God, isn’t bad at all. There are a few hokey moments; the spoken word bit on “My Green Cigarettes” was particularly ill-advised. But there’s a nice ’60 vibe to songs like “Time Will Fly” that harks back to the Monkees and Herman’s Hermits.

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