by Luke Hackney
Named in part after a vintage, battery-operated children’s toy that came with an illuminated microphone, Ypsi’s Rock ’n’ Roll Monkey and the Robots have a ridiculous moniker. Yet it’s one that manages to sum up the trio’s sound quite nicely. This debut, a collection of four-track recordings done over a seven-year span, is retro, silly and lo-fi. With borrowed Sonics riffage, Craig Campbell and Ken Seech’s guitars collide with sinister Casio death rays, high-pitched backing vocals and samples of everything from ramblin’ bluesmen to Barbie proclaiming this to be her "favorite rock CD." "Shaky Jake" is a bluesy, pounding stomp — steered by the driving beats of drummer Jackie Herman — reminiscent of the Flamin’ Groovies, only recorded in a tin can, with vocals that sound filtered through a busted payphone. Other highlights include the upbeat "Toss It Back Like Kerouac," which could be straight from Nuggets, the boy-girl vocal of "James Dean Was a Jerk" and "Chopegratewhipgrind," with its distortion-box guitars and spooktacular keyboards. Marred by a few songs of slow-paced sludge, Detroit Trauma is a decent debut from a band that makes Barbie’s soul sing.
Luke Hackney writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.