Dwelling among the fungi and bottom feeders, in the shadows of the hipster ecosystem known as a regional music scene, appears that rarest of creatures, the noble underdog. The underdog appears at first to have the markings of its more dominant peers. In the case of Detroit's High Strung, it's razor guitars and a retro mid-'60s garage-rock sensibility. But upon close inspection, the similarities are superficial, belying another species altogether -- one distinguished by early-Who whistle-along hooks, naughty-schoolboy vocals á la Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks, and a scruffy exuberance that recalls the best Midwestern bands of the '80s. It is likely that many of the High Strung's cohabitants, engrossed in their mating rituals and contract hunting, haven't noticed their cunning neighbor's debut full-length, These Are Good Times. But the album's crafty melodies and contagious energy point toward the great evolutionary consolation of underdogs everywhere: They outgrow and outlive their fragile habitats, leaving other species to extinction.
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