Music » Critics' Picks

The Waxwings

Friday, August 6; Rocket Bar


Cool kids will tell you there's nothing like Detroit garage rock, and the Waxwings are nothing like Detroit garage rock. Or are they? After dissolving Glider in 1997, Motown's Dean Fertita and Dominic Romano stopped staring at their shoes long enough to figure out that guitar-pop exuberance trumps pretty-boy moping, and good songs beat the best noise. Their 2000 debut, Low to the Ground, was like a full-on tribute to Brian Wilson and Big Star, the Byrds and Badfinger. Maybe they were bidding for a Yellow Pillz cover story, but you didn't hold their '60s pop studies against them -- songs such as "Keeping the Spark," "Low Ceiling" and the twangy "Firewood" were too delectably dark, too freshly imagined. The brand-new Let's Make Our Descent retains the Waxwings' blissed-out harmonies and catchy-but-never-callow songwriting -- the opening track, "Steady as Starlight," is this summer's great, lost single -- and adds more bent guitar, more frantic drumming, a snarl or seven from Romano's lips and, most surprising, some of the heedless, stripped-down energy of the garages they once gussied up in paisley. And live these Motown power-poppers reportedly bring the rock, loose and loud, which is reason enough to go.