In 1985 a flamboyant band called Brat appeared on Detroit rock scene and started playing all the clubs. They changed their name to Trash Brats in 1987, but remained flamboyant and kept playing the clubs. By 1989 they found themselves opening for bands like Pretty Boy Floyd and Bang Tango when those bands rolled through town riding the crest of a little Headbanger's Ball airplay. Finally in 1990 the Trash Brats released their first single, "Someday's Too Late," and guess what, it was a lot better than anything by Pretty Boy Floyd or Bang Tango.
The band released their first album in 1991, a self-titled cassette also known as the I-94 Recordings. It's a great combination of pop punk and hair metal (I don't really like that term but...). Very similar stuff was happening on the Sunset Strip in the nineties, this cool mix of glam metal and pop punk, more on that in future posts. The first song on the tape is called "Don't Wanna Dance" and it is better than a lot of the stuff the major labels were pumping out in 1991 and calling metal or hard rock. "Wider The View" is another great one. My favorite song on the cassette is probably "Suit of Armor."
The band upgraded (I guess) to CD in 1992 when they released their second album, The Joke's On You. The first song "Downtown Nowhere" is an instant classic, a cleverly constructed, fast-paced rock song. These guys might have had a ridiculous image but they sure took their songwriting seriously. "Leave the Key" is another gem, an example of the band straddling genres to produce great rock and roll, and you have to wait until the last song on the album to hear the best song, "Lil Childhood Dreams." The Joke's On You is good stuff, but the best songs simply foreshadow how great the next album was going to be.
It took awhile but in 1996 the band finally released another album, Out of the Closet, and it's their best work, seventies infused pop punk masquerading as sleaze rock. The first song "Eatin' Crow" is just plain awesome and the second song "Time Don't Wanna Tell" is even better, very catchy tunes with singalong choruses. "No Jangle Thrust" is a song title you'd expect to see on a Hanoi Rocks album and it sounds like them, just faster and heavier, it is maybe the best song on the record. This is inspired stuff. You can hear all the bands they love bleeding through. These songs celebrate rock and roll, with zero pretension.
On their fourth album, American Disaster, which appeared in 2001, the band decided to take things in a more punk direction. I could be wrong, but it seems like they were trying to fit in with some of the other underground bands that were getting attention at the time. Most of the cool seventies rock vibe that gave their punky hard rock its personality was gone. A song like "Imitation Generation" is good but kind of boring and generic to me, compared with their earlier work. And that was that, they haven't been heard from since.
You can download every song the band ever released legally and for free right here:
Have fun. There's lots of other cool stuff on that site as well. For example, check out the Almighty Strut.