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If We Can't Trust the Doctors – 2004 (V2)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Blanche

Detroit has once again proven itself to be a hotbed of garage rock excellence with the rise of many new and exciting purveyors of the genre. But Detroit has always fostered an amazing cross current of sound; when the Stooges and MC5 ruled the Motor City, they co-existed with Berry Gordy's Motown. Similarly, as the city's profile has risen with the fortunes of the White Stripes, it has also spawned the country/folk/pop lilt of bands like Volebeats and Blanche.

On their debut, Blanche's husband/wife combo Tracee and Dan John Miller (he formerly fronted country punk outlaws Goober & the Peas) and the band combines the noirish murder balladry of the Handsome Family ("Superstition," "Bluebird") with the restrained roots energy of 16 Horsepower ("So Long Cruel World") and that unmistakable hint of skewed Detroit perspective (the band's cover of the Gun Club's "Jack on Fire," "Garbage Picker"). As an example of the city's cross-pollination, Jack White contributes a guitar solo to "Who's to Say" and pop wunderkind Brendan Benson produces a pair of tracks. Blanche pulls off the near impossible task of sounding creepy and joyful all at once and adds yet another potent chapter to the big book of great Detroit music.