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The Paybacks

Led by lanky ex-junkie tomboy Wendy Case, the long-in-the-tooth Paybacks have ignored all the recent flavor-of-the month hyperbole for an unwavering trash rock aesthetic that has self-professed garage guru Little Steven masturbating at the drop of their name.

Swiping the gritty attributes of heroines Chrissie Hynde, Janis Joplin and Joan Jett, singer/guitarist Case throttles her defiantly personal lyrics with a nicotine-and-hooch throatiness not heard since Hole's Courtney Love flipped the bird at the post-Nirvana grunge scene.

Formed in Detroit in 1999 from the sweaty loins of a sinful back-alley rumble between Case and the rhythm section of much-revered, lo-fi crud trio the Hentchmen (bass wizard John Szymanski and skin-basher Bill Hafer), the supremely confident third album from these 30-somethings takes no prisoners. Conspicuous tracks include the vicious garage--psych hailstorm of "Bring It Back" and the defiant album centerpiece "Like a Man," a bluesy, nitro-propelled barnstormer where Iggy, the MC5 and Golden Earring swap war stories in a Methadone clinic waiting line.

Supported by the razor-sharp, stabbing leads of guitarist Danny Methric, Case exposes tiers of emotional pain and brutal truths about love and its many euphoric, hurtful and perplexing symptoms. Birthed from a nasty breakup between Case and an ex-boyfriend, Love, Not Reason traces the relationship's emotional rollercoaster ride with brute frankness and feral abandon. During the ragged explosiveness of opener "Love Letter," a scabrous confessional to the dismissed lover, the Paybacks kick out the jams in a search-and-destroy mission for unrequited radar love.

More by Ron Bally

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