Detroit Garage Punks Prove They’ve Got Songs of Their Own


While Detroit’s cavalcade of garage bands may be a tribute to the city’s automotive past, only one has represented their hometown’s musical history. Headed by scene godfather Mick Collins, the Dirtbombs have a sound that can’t be contained by a mere concrete outbuilding: soul, punk, glam, r&b, and plain ol’ fashioned, unfashionable rock ‘n’ roll pump up a sound big enough to fill Henry Ford’s mansion and tear apart far larger houses when they play live. Their 2001 covers album, Ultraglide in Black, did Motown proud from Smokey to Stevie. The disc met with overwhelming praise from Mensa members and ex-cons alike, but some of it carried a dis—great band, sure, but with no songs of their own.

With Dangerous Magical Noise, the Dirtbombs prove otherwise. Perhaps rebuilding some of the 20th century’s greatest songs from the inside out made something click: Collins’s way with a hook has blown up into a stack of tunes that stick, ranging from cranked-up faux-arena rock to spine-shaking rhythm and staccato bounce. Fuzzed-out bitterness with a hip-swinging beat makes “Stupid” ring like Marvin Gaye collaborating with Johnny Rotten; the old school also flavors the hand claps, Hammond organ, and backup songstresses of “F.I.D.O.” Plenty of Motor City bands rev engines, but the Dirtbombs have a tiger in their tank.