The Sights
w/the Donnas, Rock 'N' Roll Soldiers
Sun April 24, El Corazòn, 8 pm, $13/$15, all ages.

With the Detroit garage-rock trend out of the press' rearview-mirror sight, the Sights' recent major-label leap feels a bit tardy. Odd, since the Sights are the youngest, cutest, and poppiest band in their hometown--traits that should've gotten them the big hookup earlier. Plus, their first two gems were cornucopias of '70s power-pop plundering (think Raspberries, Kinks, Big Star) primed with arrangement ambitions far removed from the Motor City's traditional raw-assed proclivities. But the Sights have always claimed they weren't part of that Scene anyway; these were three young'uns still living with their parents out in the suburbs.

It's odd then that these days, the Sights boys sound older than their Michigan kin--a point driven home by the classic-rock formalism of their latest, The Sights (New Line). It's even more obvious that they didn't hang with the Dirtbombs, the White Stripes, et al. because the Sights have those bands' retro roots but little of their loony, wheels-off charm.

Not to say the Sights lack charisma. They possess the polished songwriting chops many of their covers-loving cousins shy away from. Songs like "Backseat," "Just Got Robbed," and "Will I Be True" please with chipper folk hooks, punky propulsion, and harmonies about all the suitable lovelorn topics. And they smartly place those wonders right after fourth-generation boogie ("Last Chance") or organ-led plodders ("Circus," "Baby's Knocking Me Down"). But hiding a low-sperm-count cover of the Faces' "Stay with Me" at the end of the CD doesn't hide the fact that this new record may be surprising coming out in 2005 from a bunch 23-year-olds, but would've been another $1-bin cutout in 1980.

Admittedly, there have been some lineup shake-ups sidelining the Sights for a couple of years. Then again maybe the fringe jackets, Traffic interview nods, and recent jam-filled gigs imply too much bong time for the band. It might yet land them a slot at Bonnaroo and some shelf life on the magic bus of patchouli tours, though, which, unlike the Detroit rock thing, is a trend that shows no sign of receding.

editor@thestranger.com

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