So as anyone that has ever paid the fuck attention to this blog or the podcast knows, I live in Detroit and I am not entirely jazzed about it. At least I am far more skeptical of it than most other people I know in this city, and I don't subscribe to the idea that the city is on some sort of trajectory for a rebound. In fact, I think I've been proven correct in my pessimism on the metropolis's prospects with all this bullshit on the bankruptcy that seems utterly nonsensical to me, but I guess necessity isn't always reasonable. However, I am not gloating that I was right to be doubtful about Detroit, I mean the odds were on this if you were to place bet at these shitty casinos we've now got here. Moreover, I fucking live here, it would only benefit me to see the city revive more. I get to grin and bear the ugly aspects of this city whether I am hopeful or not.
I say all this as a preface to the fact that Detroit is truly a mixed bag. In some ways good things come from bad things and vice versa, certainly not in a healthy balance but like a horribly out of whack scale might measure allotments of delightful features into the cityscape. For example, the place is cheap overall: low rent, drinks are reasonable, food prices aren't too high unless you want something from the new high-end grocers or restaurants that are popping up (even then nothing compared to the coasts), and gasoline is cheaper than places like Chicago or New England in my experience. This means what is poverty according to the government can still be livable for young adults without offspring like myself; not comfortable or luxurious but not nearly homeless either. No plane tickets to France in budget, but a steak to cook at home and a pack of decent smokes are achievable. Of course you gotta lie about not living to your car insurer or your premiums will double or triple automatically and I never learned how paranoid I could be until I got mugged, or how angry I could be until after the second time. But then again, the police can't be fucking bothered to stop you from having a beer in a park most of the time, nobody is gonna stop you from having chickens despite it technically being illegal, and riding a bike through this city can be remarkably fun because of how there's only one rule: don't let anything get too close.
Yet in all these pros and cons I've saved what might be the only trump card I really think the Detroit has, it's fucking amazing music. Getting into the Detroit garage rock bands of the 90s and early aughts are what initially hooked me on going back everyday to the Port Huron public library to check out CDs by the dozen. The Hentchmen, the Dirtbombs, Outrageous Cherry, the Come Ons, and naturally those wonderful early albums by the White Stripes and the legendary Gories. Now, I wasn't in a position monetarily, transit or otherwise to really see any of these bands until I was... 24, I think. But there was a dreamy, young and more naive version of me that listened to these groups rabidly, and was astounded to find very few people listened to these bands, at least until the White Stripes blew the fuck up like an atom bomb. It was like, for a hot minute the world looked at Detroit and recognized that we were doing something cool again, like some kind of a renewed Motown imagined for just a flash of instant. Then the world noticed everything else going on basically everywhere and we slipped back to where we were at before: a few really popular acts and a pyramid of other acts of less notoriety beneath.
Yet, this is not a sad ending to Detroit's illustrious musical past. What sort of shit would that be? This city, if nothing fucking else, knows how to make some damned righteous rock and roll (and hip hop, techno and so on). I'd put this above the automobiles and the fact that we used to make Stroh's. And perhaps it is a nostalgia-based favoritism, but I think one of the new prime examples of this is Blaire Alise & The Bombshells. Nostalgic insomuch that her singing reminds me so damned much of Detroit acts I remember so fondly like the Fondas, the Detroit Cobras and the Come Ons with a healthy dose of Motown girl group and 50s rockabilly feel thrown in. She's playing to her crowd, that much is for sure, and I am eating it right up. And just to make me feel a bit older than perhaps I should, she's just a kid, as far as I know she's not even able to buy herself a beer yet. Basically, at this point the fans of Detroit garage rock should be on board, and those of you unfamiliar with this shit have a lot of homework to get done...
To be had here: