Detroit's Danny and the Darleans are certainly on a roll. Their self-titled debut album (Nero's Neptune, 2013) was the stuff of legends, admittedly something only Danny Kroha could pull off. Kroha, who of course shared dual frontman duty with Mick Collins in the highly influential Gories, has that certain kind of enviable charm, and it shines more than ever on these recordings.
Kroha released his debut full-length folk-blues solo record last year to widespread acclaim. The album shows his most comfortable place is with an electric guitar. Richie Wohlfeil, proprietor of Lo & Behold Records and Books in Hamtramck, sits behind the group's kit, and whether you've heard of him, he's one of — if not the — most solid drummers in Detroit. Wohlfeil's fills shine through on tunes like the opening track stomper "Bug Out Bag," and "I'm Right Here," produced with some mighty fine bombastic rhythm. His fills are nothing to gawk at, and he makes this band what it is.
Kroha's raunchy guitar solos are more refined than his original stint in the Gories, and the solidity of his vocals stand strong. Bassist Colleen Burke and Wohlfeil work together on the bluesy "Let's Stomp," a highlight of the album, which also highlights Kroha's wide and unique vocal range. Kroha gives some nod to his Gories days by covering Eddie Holland's Motown classic "Leaving Here," a tune the Gories often played live but never recorded in the studio (for reference, seek the Gories 1988 live album The Shaw Tapes, finally released in 2015). Longtime live staples from the Darleans are also present in "Who Dat?" and "Dr. Finger," songs that go back to the release of their previous album in 2014.
Kroha angrily laments love on songs like "Soul on Ice" by screaming "You put me in a cage/ that only fueled my rage/ I realize what I did was wrong/ you can't hold me here too long." Lyrics like these would be deemed too simplistic in any other case, but here they shine. By not overplaying and keeping the recordings simple, the band makes clear their stylistic reign. ''Dr. Finger" is another highlight, starting out with Burke's tonal bass lines and slowly gliding into ghostly, Shirelles-like backing vocals. Kroha's overlaid howling at the dangers of addiction showcase a shivery kind of lamentation, and it's difficult not to replay this jam. The album closes fittingly with a traditional take on the Nightcrawlers' "Little Black Egg," and, in all honestly, it's surprising this is the first time Kroha has laid this tune to tape.
This is one of the last albums Jim Diamond recorded at Ghetto Recorders before his trek overseas, and it's fitting that the closure of Ghetto coincides with the recording of an album that authentically screams about the fact it was made in Detroit. In the Red Records seems a fitting place for the band, resting on the same roster alongside scene contemporaries like Tyvek and the Dirtbombs.
This unique placement shows label owner Larry Hardy knows more about Detroit music than most people who live here. Coming from a label in Los Angeles, we see that the modern Detroit musical renaissance doesn't only have to be confined to our city itself. Bug Out is a fantastic record if only for the fact it highlights Kroha's importance in the ever-growing Detroit music scene, which is steadily growing, but also looking to Kroha's work in bands like Rocket 455 and the Demolition Doll Rods for inspiration.