Has anyone else noticed that lately (and by lately, I mean the last three to four years, respectively) that a good portion of bands/musicians to rise from Detroit have publicly behaved like the redheaded stepchildren of music? I believe it began with Eminem, notorious for white trash behavior that landed him in court more than a couple of times. Next came The White Stripes with Jack White’s conduct both on stage and off, generally mimicking that of a pissed off five-year-old. White of course, was also directly responsible for Jason Stollsteimer’s (of the Detroit-based Von Bondies) black eye in 2004. 50 Cent’s verbal spats with mouse-faced Ja Rule also come to mind when I think of the Motor City’s contribution to music (not to mention his criminal record).
It’s no surprise then that the latest release from Detroit’s newly discovered Thunderbirds Are Now! (TAN!), the inappropriately entitled Justamustache, comes off like an assaulting epileptic seizure. Surpassing the false energy of post-hardcore and embracing a truer dirty-rock sound, TAN! produces ten songs of furious bass and guitar trips, electronic blips and beeps, and blend them perfectly with the often androgynous vocals of Ryan Allen, Scott Allen, and Zach Curd.
The spasms of sour notes on “Better Than Safari,” and “Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About Me,” are just as rife with aggression as they are with silliness. Retro in sound without being too super-sacchrined, TAN! finds a tricky way to ride the neo-eighties wave to higher ground. Like their contemporaries Beep Beep (minus the blatantly perverse lyrics), TAN! uses electronic sound capabilities as an added touch, not an unnecessary interjection of sound.
Something else I think TAN! should be commended for is their use of the exclamation point. Maybe it’s just a long-standing personal issue I have with bands and their inappropriate names, but I hate it when the package is suggestively excitable and the product is not. Thunderbirds Are Now! have definitely earned their punctuation. Oh, and thanks, Iggy Pop, for giving birth to Detroit and bad behavior. He could have probably got away with an exclamation point too, if he had thought of it first.