City Slang: “Out of the Closet” Revisited

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Oh yes, the fuckin’ Trash Brats. Born in ’87 when guitarist Ricky Rat and singer Brian O’Blivion discovered a shared love of the New York Dolls, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, T-Rex and trashy underground Brit bands like the Dogs D’amour, the ugliest hookers on Cass (only just, mind) put out a debut album in ’91 that is considered something of a mini-classic, or at least an overlooked gem, around Detroit.

In many ways, the Trash Brats were (and are, when they play their occasional reunion shows) the perfect rock ‘n’ roll band. First of all, they were flawed, which all rock ‘n’ roll bands should be. O’Blivion isn’t the best singer in the world by any means. When he’s not off key, he’s out of time. And yet he was perfect for the Trash Brats because it’s that ragged, don’t-give-a-flying-fuck vibe that made the Trash Brats so fuckin’ trashy. And they really were. Just look at them.

Rat, in actual fact, could play the shit out of his guitar and he did so on every one of the 13 tracks that make up ‘96’s Out of the Closet. By this time, the lineup was completed by bassist Toni Romeo (now of Easy Action) and drummer Craig Cashew. The Trash Brats were five years past that debut and they were six years away from a breakup, but the songs on here are among the best they ever put out.

The perfect combination of Cheap Trick-esque power pop, New York Dolls pomp, Ramones bubblegum and, of course, DE-troit grit, it’s the choruses that get you every time. “Time Don’t Wanna Tell” is still refusing to leave your head when “Landlord” kicks in and pretty much drowns it out. Romeo gets behind the mic for the incredible “Teen Suicide Story”, while the boogie-woogie piano on song like “Landlord” and “Comfort Me With Lies” is reminiscent of Mott the Hoople and the aforementioned Dogs D’amour. “Eating Crow” is pure punk obnoxiousness, with the tune to back it up. Shit, every song’s a winner.

The Trash Brats were never meant to take over the world. They were supposed to stay in Detroit, eating shitty food and robbing clothes from the back of the worst thrift stores. Sorry boys, that’s just the way it had to be. That’s probably why they broke up the first time. Mortal men can only take so much filth and make up. Every now and again though, they pull out the old mascara and get back to being Brats again. It might pay shit, but it’s what they do best.

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