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Pure, undistilled rock & roll

The Paybacks - Love, Not Reason
(Savage Jams Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 2, 2007
The Paybacks

Review by Tony Bonyata

Leave it to a band from Detroit to inject a much-needed dose of honest rock & roll into an underground music scene dominated by indie snobbery and pretensions. On The Paybacks' third full-length album, Love, Not Reason, the Midwestern quartet deliver a fierce platter of unapologetic, down-and-dirty music that hearkens back to the true meaning of rock & roll.

Formed in 1999 from the ashes of Detroit rock vets Rocket 455, The Hentchmen and Ten High, the band gained initial notoriety during the wave of international interest in not only Motor City comrades The White Stripes, but the entire burgeoning garage rock scene out of Detroit. Since then The Paybacks have been winning over one room at a time with their blistering live shows that bring back all the excitement and danger of rock & roll.

The band is led by howler / guitarist Wendy Case, whose low, hoarse pipes mirror the dank, smoky rock clubs that she and guitarist extraordinaire Danny Methric (The Muggs), drummer Bill Hafer and bassist John Szymanski (now replaced on the road by Dave Malosh) have been tearing up for the better part of the last decade. While there's no denying the level of energy and cliff-jumping abandon throughout many of these eleven compositions, primary songwriter Case has thankfully added the key ingredient of melody to these numbers (even the ones covered in leather and sweat). From the fist-pumping chorus over Methric's lethal guitar leads of "Call When You're Ready" and the proud rocker "Love Letter," to the beautiful melody that skips over the tight rhythm section on "Bring It Back" to the sultry number "Painkiller," that erupts into the song's brief, yet pounding choruses, it's evident that these numbers will stand the test of time through both strong composition and unwavering audacity. Interestingly enough the more subdued sections of the latter track also showcase Methric delivering some airy jazz guitar before the entire song takes on a new life with the psychedelic freak-out of '60 Nuggets-era guitar feedback and combating rhythms.

Adding a bit of subtle texture to the mix the foursome add in the rudimentary, yet charming sonnet "Something Simple" for good measure. It's welcomed moments like this that let us catch a quick breath before the roller coaster speeds straight down into the vertigo inducing rockers "Shotgunn," "Divided By Two," "Sleepwaking" and the unbridled punk of "Like A Man."

You can call it "garage" or "punk," I call it pure, undistilled, kick-ass rock & roll. Straight up, no chaser.

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