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The Ruiners - Happy Birthday Bitch

by Kevin Wierzbicki

There are a lot of empty houses in Detroit right now and as tough on the city as that is the situation provides a little silver lining opportunity for Motor City bands---there are certainly plenty of garages available to be used as rehearsal spaces. Detroit has long been a major incubator for rough-and-tumble rockers, spawning great but underappreciated acts like the Dirtbombs, the Gore Gore Girls and the Ruiners. The Ruiners encapsulate everything that's cool about garage rock starting with guitars that roar like buzz-bombs one minute ("Suburban Cop"), hit the surf the next ("Charlie Laine Ate My Brain") and get dosed upon occasion for a psych freak-out like the one on "Love/Hate (Eat Me Alive)." They have both a great attitude and a bad one; "Sugar Buzz" is a fun wad of bubblegum-garage pop chronicling a carefree and candy-coated day but "Happy Birthday Bitch" is a snotty put-down of a skanky chick that whores-around so much that she's told she should tie a mattress to her back. Then there's the obligatory slap at authority in the form of "Suburban Cop" where lead singer Justin Ruiner (all band members except singer Nina Friday take the last name "Ruiner" a la the Ramones) slings jibes and insults at the fuzz all through the song, even laughing that he's on speed when the cop is trying to bust him for being drunk. Justin has a nasally voice that heaps credibility on to the characters he portrays here, bringing every streetwise bad boy and party imp to vivid life. Happy Birthday Bitch takes an occasional swing at your nose but it also buys you a couple beers; that's a recipe for thrilling fun in any garage.

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