Popular Creeps Detroit: Bloodshot Red

There are few things better than hearing new music from friends of friends. Popular Creeps guitarist and vocalist Lenny Grassa is a veteran of Nick Zeigler and John Pozza’s pre-Forty Nineteens band, The Leonards. Their shared legacies are among the richest of any bands currently recording and performing. As you might expect, “Bloodshot Red” is filled with crackling, shot-out-of a cannon Pop and Cow Punk sounds for the ages.

The Popular Creeps are Andy Colvin (guitar, vocals), Lenny Grassa (guitar, vocals), Joe Heaphy (bass), and Dave Nantais (drums). Their Facebook page biography explains it all: “Guitars, drums, bass and yelling… blah, blah, blah! ,” and they list their influences as “Grandpa, Ray Davies, Robert Pollard, Paul Westerberg, & Rick Nielson.”

The opening track, “Out of My Head,” features a nice, twangy “Dr. Robert” bounce. “Doesn’t matter what they say, I’ll be out of my head all day…” There’s an instrumental bridge that’s flavored with a little rockabilly / “alt-country” twang before launching into the final verse. It’s clear that the band’s dues have been paid in the school of constructing tight, tuneful songs.

“Blue” further ventures into alt-country turf, the realm of Crazy Horse, R.E.M., and all of the cowpunk bands that filled the Palomino and other legendary haunts…this is where the Leonards connection is very apparent. The song also has a little Stones swagger, a tight, precise and distorted guitar solo, and that indelible Gram Parsons influence on the songwriting of Mick and Keith: “You’ve taken everything that the doctor told you to…oh, and you’re blue, and it’s just not you…” It’s especially notable on this track that bassist Joe Heaphy knows exactly what to do during the guitar solos…both he and drummer Dave Nantais anchor it, punctuate it, propel it. These are seasoned road warriors in action, folks.

“Down And Out” opens with a sound that could have come from the first Eagles album, but the mojo of the band is really closer to the aforementioned cowpunk bands, the genial sneer of guys like Jason Ringenberg and Warner Hodges in Jason & The Scorchers, and the whole Uncle Tupelo / Son Volt / Wilco phenomenon. If any of what I’ve written so far has intrigued you, you could stop reading and go score your very own copy at the link above. But let’s continue…

“Metal Kid” is a mid-tempo empathetic nod to the disenfranchised, with another spot-on guitar solo. “Metal Kid, they don’t understand. this ain’t no Beatles band, and this ain’t The Rolling Stones…”

“Why She Went” amps up the “cow” in “cowpunk,” another love gone wrong ode…“Every time it was with her, they were all my favorite days…one day, I turned and she was gone…”

“Fade Away,” to continue the contrasts, leans on the “Punk” in “Cowpunk,” specifically mid-tempo Ramones and the “New Wave” power pop bands of the 80s.

“Lights” is another mid-tempo track, and you’ll really hear the Replacements connection here.

The album closes with the acoustic-driven “Century,” a melancholy kiss-off to days gone by…“And now we’ve seen it all washed away, there’s nothing left to dig for, and nothing left to say…”

Popular Creeps cover a lot of ground on this album, and they do it all seamlessly. You’ll be hearing them on the There Once Was A Note radio show, and here’s hoping this is the first of many killer releases to follow.