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Mama Mama Mama Weer All Heartbreakers Now

Wendy Case is the one in the hat.
photo: Christopher Chouinard

There's a surplus of screamers on the rock scene who do little more than wail as if someone's yanking on their short-and-curlies. All the more reason to revere Wendy Case, singer-guitarist of Detroit garage mavericks the Paybacks. She makes the screamers sound like they've got balls the size of birdseed. When Case throws back her head and opens her jaws, the lung-rattling roar that comes out is gruff, sexy, and salt-of-the-earth, a haughtier echo of Slade's Noddy Holder.

Her pipes instilled a sense of pride and fullness in the Paybacks' 2002 album, Knock Loud, and they return with even more whomp on the aptly titled new Harder and Harder. "I work twice as hard to get half as far," cries Case, but she's not above flashing priceless shit-eating grins.

She blows a kiss to her bitchin' self in "Jumpy," howling, "I'm so clean, baby, I might disappear." A rodeo of guitar solos and rhythmic clamor kicks up dust that Case bites right through. She's a fiendish heartbreaker who mama warned you about in "Me," but there's anguish in her voice when she pleads for respect in "When I'm Gone." Raunchy and poignant rock 'n' roll? Holler back.


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