Slower Soledads

SOLEDAD BROTHERS with the EXPLODERS and TANGIERS at the Tequila Lounge (794 Bathurst), Friday (May 10). $8. 416-968-2001. Rating: NNNNNdetroit's.

SOLEDAD BROTHERS with the EXPLODERS and TANGIERS at the Tequila Lounge (794 Bathurst), Friday (May 10). $8. 416-968-2001. Rating: NNNNN

detroit’s soledad brothers areway ahead of the curve. It usually takes garage punks three or four albums before they’re overcome by the need to demonstrate their musical sophistication. But the Soledad Brothers’ self-titled sophomore disc indicates that they’ve already given up the snarling blues stomps for tender love ballads.

There’s still a raw, Stonesy side to some of the material, so they haven’t pulled a Blues Explosion and gone completely soft, but dividing up the album into Side Of Love and Side Of Understanding indicates that there’ve been some changes in the Soledads’ approach.

Their label didn’t bring in a clueless producer to mess with their sound. So what did happen? According to guitarist Johnny Walker — currently finishing up his psychology studies at the University of Cincinatti — it’s just a result of the members’ natural maturation process.

“When I’m at home,” confesses Walker, “I just don’t listen to much rock music any more. I tend to put on jazz or slow blues. And when I’ve picked up an acoustic guitar lately, I find myself writing these sappy love songs. I accumulated so many mellow tunes that it seemed like it was time to record them.”

You’d expect there’d be a number of Soledad Brothers followers upset by being tossed the slow sucker ball, but Walker claims he’s heard nothing but positive comments. You know, “At last, a blues album I can knit to” — that sort of thing.

“I thought there would’ve been a backlash because of the slower songs, but that hasn’t happened. Maybe the people who listen to our music have gotten as sophisticated as us.”

Possibly, but it’s a safer bet that the Soledad Brothers’ close ties to press darlings the White Stripes could be temporarily shielding them from a critical skewering. They’ve certainly benefited from Jack White’s patronage.

“It’s kind of strange that we’re getting more White Stripes-related attention now than with our first album, which he produced entirely.

“I’m sure that some ears are perking up because Jack is always talking us up in interviews. We’re really tight. Our drummer, Ben (Swank), actually lives with Jack, but we’re all good friends.”

That’s the interesting thing about the currently hot Detroit scene: the bands have maintained an unusual camaraderie.

“Four or five years ago,” Walker explains, “the only people in Detroit going to shows by the Dirtbombs, the White Stripes, the Go and the Detroit Cobras were the members of the other bands on the scene. You’d look out from the stage and it would be like guitarist, bassist, guitarist, drummer, guitarist, singer, etc.

“We’d all hang out and play music together at after-hours parties. It became a tight-knit little clique, and we’ve remained close ever since.”

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