Danny & the Darleans

Danny & the Darleans

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As one-third of the Gories, singer/guitarist Danny Kroha cemented himself in rock history for his contributions to a band that would eventually be recognized as groundbreakingly influential. In the time between the Gories 1992 breakup and their soft return to occasional activity in 2009, Kroha found himself in a number of bands and solo appearances, and fronting Danny & the Darleans continues a long line of acts centered around Kroha's feral howls and masterful guitar clanging. This 12-song debut album refines some of the savage bombast of the Gories and loses almost all of the glam camp of Kroha's other long-running act Demolition Doll Rods. Backed by fireball drummer Richie Wohlfeil (who also did time behind the kit for Detroit Cobras, Mother Whale, Saturday Looks Good to Me, and many other Michigan acts) and bassist Colleen Burke (once keyboardist for Chicago art-punks We Regazzi), the garage rock of the Darleans is a more sophisticated affair. They're something of a party band, so the tunes here are often lighthearted, excitable, fun, and rowdy, but the record also holds undercurrents of heaviness and almost a science fiction sense of dread. Apocalyptic party rock might make sense from a trio of Detroit shadow dwellers, and the good times are never too far from the hard times over the course of this mono masterpiece. Between bounding from the full-band vocal rave-up cover of the Strangeloves' bubblegum soul gem "It's About My Baby" into pre-Velvet Underground Lou Reed jammer "You're Driving Me Insane," the band slows things down with heartbroken dirges like "How Many Times" or the end-of-the-world feedback and sludge of "Les Fleurs Du Mal." While Kroha's voice bends between doomy theatrics and drunken swagger, Burke's fluid basslines and Wohlfeil's scatterbrained and trashy drumming blend the songs into seamless bursts of energy and slinking crawls of Midwestern anxiety. There's not a dud in the bunch, and the production is uncomplicated and not overly retro-fitting, the vintage mikes and analog recording suiting the songs perfectly in lieu of an attempt to stuff them into a backwards-looking forced nostalgia. The result is an electric album of Detroit music that swings a pendulum between carefree cool and cracked comic book paranoia, but manages to stay fun, exciting, and lively even in the darkest moments. A distinctly Michigan perspective and a document of some of the most straightforward, unquestionable, dead-on rock & roll of its era.

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