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Go back in time with Detroit rockers The Go

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Flashbacks: The Go
  • Flashbacks: The Go
There's music that's made to generate cash. There's music that attempts to push the boundaries of this or that ... and to show up the music that's supposed to generate cash. There's music that tries to revive a musical culture of the past (and make money doing so).

None of these really seem to have anything to do with Detroit garage-rockers The Go.

After listening to the band's latest, Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride, you wonder why any aspiring musicians would choose to make music like this in 2007. The members of The Go must have no choice -- they've had plenty of chances to bail.

First of all, Jack White was in the band, leaving in 1999, presumably when he realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life wearing red and white. That sucks. Second, after The Go released Whatcha Doin' on that gatekeeper of indie cool, Sub Pop, the band's follow-up was rejected by the label. That also sucks. Third, the band tried a U.K.-based approach, releasing an eponymous album in 2003 on Lizard King; while that label had successfully launched The Killers, The Go didn't, well, go.

Yet, after all that, vocalist Bobby Harlow decided to take up the producer's mantle, recording Howl on tape in a Detroit basement with bandmates John Krautner, James McConnell and Mark Fellis. The result is 12 songs offering glimpses of Marc Bolan, The Beatles, The Kinks, latter-day Beach Boys, Big Star, even Buffalo Springfield, with Harlow a very convincing cross between John Lennon and Alex Chilton.

The only stereotypical "real Detroit rock 'n' roll" song, in the vein of Alice Cooper or Iggy, is the metallic "Help You Out," which features a slashing harmonized guitar hook and oddly Ozzy vocals. Because while many of The Go's garage-rock peers take old-timey rock and make it louder, Howl is basically a quiet, dynamic record -- a '60s pop sound. Witness the blissed-out vocal harmonies, piano and R&B horns of "Caroline"; the Bolan ballad, "She's Prettiest When She Cries"; the Stonesy boogie of "Yer Stoned Italian Cowboy." I mean, for crying out loud, "Mary Ann" opens with a near rip-off of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' "Rag Doll."

While the band's earlier records were compared to Exile-era Stones, Howl is more like Metamorphosis -- literally, too, I suppose, when you consider this album took flight from a Detroit basement cocoon. Yet something tells me you'll see a more electrified sound at the band's live show, Thu., June 28 at the 31st Street Pub. Why "go"? Why not?

The Go with Freer, The Resistors and Meeting of Important People. 9 p.m. Thu., June 28. 31st Street Pub, 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $8. 412-391-8334 or www.31stpub.com

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