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Detroit Cobras

Friday, January 20, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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If Mick Collins and his Dirtbombs infantry led the Detroit garage scene into battle throughout the last decade, the Detroit Cobras were the house band the boys could come home to. Dispensing with any notions of alternative-nation building, the members of the Cobras were content to mine their considerable record collections for '50s and '60s R&B obscurities to cover.

Though offhandedly hipping the garage-rock kids to "where it all came from," the Cobras were basically a party band. A few cool Sympathy for the Record Industry releases, the "big in England" tag, and resultant trend hype did the rest.

But the band kept shifting members, and Nagy's stage presence became more confused and bored. Then the usual major-label backslaps/stabs ensued, so it took a while for Baby (Bloodshot), the group's latest long-player, to finally appear a couple months ago. Landing on Bloodshot puts the Cobras in the roots-rock context they belonged to all along. At times, the band members seem resigned to backup status; while they're still able to stomp around sometimes, the groovy ballads stick out, thanks to Nagy's more subtle, well-aging vox. Seems like the Detroit Cobras are back from the front, playing for the boys again.

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