Sunday, March 04, 2007

SXSW Artist Spotlight: The Detroit Cobras

I don't know exactly what it is about The Detroit Cobras that makes me love them so much, but I do. I love The Detroit Cobras. There, I said it.

Maybe it's because of their original take on R&B and Soul from the vaults of Motown, reworked and infused with their vintage garage rock sound. Maybe it's because I find myself going back to listen to their albums over and over again, and never tire of hearing them. It might also be because I got absolutely trashed at their gig at Emo's last year and they provided one of the most entertaining live performances that I saw in 2006. They had the whole raucous crowd moving from the very first song of the set, and nobody stopped dancing until the last second of their encore. Lots of bands are able to do great things in the studio but can't pull it off in a live setting. The Detroit Cobras are not one of those bands. I'm excited to know that they will be back in Austin on March 17 for SXSW, filling the 11:30 p.m. slot for the official Bloodshot Records showcase at Red Eyed Fly.

The core of the Cobras is Rachel Nagy, with her distinctive and sultry vocal style, and her partner in crime Mary Ramirez on the guitar. Over the years the two have been joined in studio and on the stage by a revolving cast of band mates, and they will be touring extensively once again in 2007 following the release of their new album titled Tied & True (April 24.) One of the most accurate descriptions that I have seen of The Detroit Cobras reads "While a band that only does covers may sound like a one-trick pony, the Cobras manage to mine the hidden parts of bygone eras, coming back with gems that might go otherwise unheard to the next generations, and creating a great style of their own in the process."

Read some background information at Detroit, and if you have an interest you should check out Detroit Cobra Covers for some detailed info about some of the tracks they have done over the years.

Turn the volume up, sucka

The Detroit Cobras - "Putty (In Your Hands)" from Mink Rat or Rabbit 1998
The Detroit Cobras - "Right Around the Corner" from Life, Love and Leaving 2001
The Detroit Cobras - "99 and a Half Just Won't Do" from Seven Easy Pieces 2003
The Detroit Cobras - "The Real Thing" from Baby 2005


The Detroit Cobras - "Ain't It A Shame" from Smooch Pooch Records.. 1996
The Detroit Cobras - "Shout Bama Lama" from Sympathetic Sounds.. 2001
The Detroit Cobras - "Last Night" (the Strokes) from Stop Me If.. 2003

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stevieray1 said...

Very cool retro motown/soul through a punk-garage filter - detroit has always been a breeding ground for some original sounding stuff. Very fun - gives me a ramones vibe almost. They have been hot in the UK for a while...Even though Detroit Cobras songs are mostly covers its all been rearranged into very cool retro garage versions. love them...

Cap said...

You're not alone. I love them too. Only wish I would have discovered them earlier. Should be the next 'big thing'

Mr. Curiosity said...

Rough Trade did a lot of good things for the Cobras over in the UK, I'm not surprised at all that they have a good following over there. I'm excited to know about the new album, I can't wait to hear some of the new stuff. As soon as I can get my hands on it I'll write some things about it here.

joe.mares said...

I agree - the Cobras are awesome!

A couple corrections if I may, however.

They do not cover Motown very often - I can only think of 3 Motown covers - "I'll Keep Holding On" (Marvelettes, 1965), "Bye Bye Baby" (Mary Wells, 1961) & "You Knows What to Do" (Barrett Strong, 1960). They have covered Irma Thomas, the "Sweet Soul Queen of New Orleans", 4 times already (5, once "Tied & True" comes out - "The Hurt's All Gone")

Also, the mp3 you posted as "Ain't It A Shame" is actually "Slumlord", a cover of the Deviants from 1968. Not your fault, the track is mis-labeled on the Smooch Pooch comp. Not to worry - Sympathy for the Record Industry is supposed to be releasing all their early releases on a disc called "Lost & Found" shortly after "Tied & True" is released.

If it's not obvious already, the Cobra's are a bit of an obsession for me - to the point where I started my own blog - - to discuss the songs they have covered.

To correct 'stevieray1' from above (am I being 'snotty'?) all their songs have been covers except "Hot Dog" from "Baby", which was co-written with Greg Cartwright from the Reigning Sound.

Enjoy the SWSX show . . I'll be stuck in Detroit and very jealous!

Alberto said...

From Barcelona: i love Detroit Cobras too. I can't wait for them to come again to the city and rock us.