PLAYING DETROIT: Killer Queens Playlist

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Jax Anderson from Flint Eastwood
Jax Anderson from Flint Eastwood

Detroit is a perplexing musical playground. From the greats of Motown all the way down to (like, rock bottom level down) king of the trailer park Kid Rock and his pasty, ornery 8 Mile loving opposition, Eminem to minimalistic power duo, The White Stripes and that guy selling a surprisingly fire rap demo in the gas station parking lot, the fabric of Detroit’s musical reputation is eclectic and strange; a fitting categorization. But what often gets overlooked is Detroit’s unbreakable continuing history of women in music. While compiling this list of friends, virtual unknowns, and local legends, I found I was overcoming my own poorly formed belief that Detroit was deficient in powerful female influence. Detroit is ferociously defined by the voice, talent, and unwavering sense of “Yeah, I got this” best demonstrated by these babes. The collection of women below share in their uncompromisingly daring expressions of self which in turn is a reflection of Detroit’s maverick spirit.

1. FLINT EASTWOOD “SECRETARY

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Jax Anderson, lead queen, is a powerhouse. Unsigned rockers, Flint Eastwood are on to something. Slinking rock-revivalist vibes tinged with Sleater-Kinney moments and vocal ferociousness that could give Alison Mosshart a run for her money, Flint Eastwood makes The Black Keys sound like watered down elementary school karaoke.

2. ADULT. “INCLINED TO VOMIT

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Married electro punk duo ADULT. fronted by Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, is Detroit’s answer to Devo, Romeo Void, and Wall of Voodoo without ever feeling like an imitation. First assembled in 1998, ADULT. is an obscure and active staple and in many ways a pioneer in the formation of Detroit’s current synth punk scene.

2. THE GORE GORE GIRLS “YOU LIED TO ME BEFORE”

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Formed in 1997 by Amy Gore, The Gore Gore Girls are one of the cities most influential psych-punk bands. Fittingly named after a 70’s splatter flick, The Gore Gore Girls have toured as support to The Cramps and have played festivals with The Stooges, The Strokes, and The Zombies. Over the course of  ten years and three albums, they’ve managed to maintain their psychedelic, raised-from-the-dead sound that continue to set the stage for some of the other ladies on this list.

 4. SUZI QUATRO “IF YOU CAN’T GIVE ME LOVE

Detroit’s under credited queen of rock is as much of an influence today as she was when she hit the scene back in 1972. Although not the first of her kind, Quatro paved the way for girls who could hang with the boys by crafting a subdued androgynous persona on stage and a roaring rock sound behind the mic. Considered one of the first female bassists to break through in the boys game of rock n’ roll, Quatro remains one of Detroit’s baddest women of rock.

5. LITTLE ANIMAL “TRYST

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Singer Rachelle Baker and producer Nick Marrow make up Little Animal, a dreamy duo responsible for the sexiest music in town. Smoothly assembled, celestial textured electronic beats that could be easily be the love child of Erykah Badu and Bjork.

6. MEXICAN KNIVES “KILLER SNAKE”

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Ruth Synowiec fronts Mexican Knives, a buzzy, lo-fi blues rock band with biting bass lines and pulsing surf punk undertones. Alongside guitarist Zach Weedon and drummer Blair Wills, Synowiec vocals are a perfect counterpart to their Brian Jonestown Massacre tendencies. She may have told The Detroit Metro Times last year that she “has no idea what she’s doing” although endearing, it’s clear that she’s wrong.

7. PRETTY GHOULS “KILLER SLUG

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Asia Mock, Sarah Stawski, and T.J Grech are Pretty Ghouls, an angsty, raw nerve punk trio that is undoubtedly one of the hardest, fuzziest newcomers to come out of Detroit in recent years. Unapologetic, Pretty Ghouls channel Detroit god Iggy Pop through their own “fuck you” filter, which makes sense considering Mock told Detroit’s Metro Times in 2012 that she wants to be the first, black female Iggy Pop. “I just want to scream in people’s faces and maybe get to rub my vagina on something in public.”

8. JESSICA HERNANDEZ & THE DELTAS “CRY, CRY, CRY

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Jessica Hernandez is a Detroit darling to the max. One of our cities most beloved female acts, Hernandez (and The Deltas, respectively) have birthed their own breed of soul/pop that is as sugary as it sexy. Colorfully confident arrangements paired with Hernandez’s signature saccharine vulnerability makes for some of Detroit’s grooviest pop.

9. CHEERLEADER “QUENCHED”

Flint-based Cheerleader, comprised of Nisa, Polly, and Ashley, is a muddy, gritty Nirvana-demo sounding trio who unabashedly thrash lyrics like “Little boys with big dicks/we need a cure for it” over messily effective compositions. Although Cheerleader doesn’t have a large collection of songs, they are a defiant presence in the Michigan underground.

10. EL DEE “HEAVEN HELP ME

Lauren Deming, or El Dee, leads a group of friends/musicians into a jazzy throwback dreamscape all her own. Rich and pure, Deming’s vocals are breathy, yet challenging. Without a rigid commitment to an era niche, El Dee manages to fuse Gershwin-esque standards with contemporary arrangement not unlike Amy Winehouse or Jon Brion, with avoiding sounding like a “fusion” artist.

 

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