In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

429 N ot so much standing, more like lurking in the shadows of Detroit’s more heralded musical legacies of Motown, techno, garage rock, and hip-hop was a band conceived in the city’s bored middle-class suburbs, birthed in its inner city, and doomed to a quasi-cult status as an unlikely footnote to the British shoegazer subgenre of grunge-era alternative rock. Joshua Glazer, writing for the acclaimed and respected music website, offered this wistful eulogy: Detroit’s only contenders in the UK’s shoegazer scene, Majesty Crush combined the effects-laden guitar work and dreamy vocals of British groups like My Bloody Valentine,the Verve,and Lush with a strong hometown-influenced rhythm section. The group’s only full-length album, released with zero promotional support by the illfated Warner Music Group subsidiary Dali Records, is a testament to what might have been, if only the band’s four members lived in Manchester, England instead of Detroit. Hobey Echlin’s impossibly catchy basslines on “No. 1 Fan”and “Pennies for Love”meld with Odell Nails’s creative, yet rock-solid drums and Michael Segal’s single-note guitar washes, laying the base for David Stroughter’s uniquely sinister vocals about love,obsession,and ...obsession.Two songs, “Uma” and “Seles” are straight-faced odes to the actress and tennis player, respectively. Tragically, Dali folded almost immediately after the album’s release, making Majesty Crush the little lost American cousin of the UK dream-pop scene. Majesty Crush were Detroit’s guiltiest pleasure during their brief life as the Motor City’s lone Afropunk shoegazers of the early’90s.Drawing as equally from Joy Division as Motown and too musically naïve to get too far away from writing perfectly sinister pop songs,the four piece,led by a crazy lead singer (Dave Stroughter), and including a dreadlocked drummer who hosted a children’s show on local cable (Odell Nails III), an area record-store clerk (Michael Segal) who played a three-string guitar (two of which were tuned to the same note),and a music journalist-cumbassist (Hobey Echlin), was a stunning if outgunned anathema to the neogrunge-indie and cold techno scenes of the city at the time. Coming together in Stroughter’s inner-city basement in 1990, the band jelled around a love of minimalist and droning sounds (which was about all they could play) but were pushed further by the singer’s Motown obsessions and inspired by similar sounds from England. Nails and Echlin were veterans of Spahn Ranch, a short-lived but influential group from the Majesty Crush Lurking in the Shadows of Motown and Detroit Techno Hobey Echlin 430 DeTroıT Musıc Mıscellanea late ’80s Detroit postpunk scene that also included His Name is Alive, a band from Livonia led by producer Warren Defever that had the distinction of being the lone Michigan band to release records on the United Kingdom’s 4 A.D. label, home to angelic goth bands like Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance. But if His Name is Alive were signed to 4 A.D., it was Spahn Ranch, led by singer Bob Sterner, who sounded more like Detroit heirs to the 4 A.D. sound. Sterner’s vocal acrobatics and choirboy crescendos made the dark, shimmering sounds of Spahn Ranch resonate like some hopeful, slightly brighter hue of blues amid the glorious din of the band’s tribal,psychedelic backbeat.As fanzine Motorbooty put it, Spahn Ranch sounded like “newage music for people with black leather jackets.” Sterner’s previous band, Grief Factory, which featured writer Peter Markus on bass, hinted at the more straightforward roots of what would become Detroit’s shoegaze sound: the refined directness of the MC5 and the Stooges distilled into a mantralike repetition of vocal gymnastics and blissedout epiphanies. If Spahn Ranch took this to dark, psychedelic depths, Majesty Crush brought it back into a seemingly brighter light that had more to do with Smokey Robinson than Jane’s Addiction. Stroughter and Nails had grown up in Southfield, a Detroit suburb not known for its multiculturalism. Stroughter’s mother was German (his parents met when his father was stationed overseas in the army), while Nails’s family were proud Oklahoma transplants—and pioneering ones: Nails’s father was the first black superintendent of the Pontiac public school system. Stroughter and Nails palled around with the extended families of Motown royalty (their Southfield neighbors) while being drawn to...


Additional Information

MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.