Paul E. Ester and the Cruel Shoes contain about 40% of the Metros’ sound and about 60% of the Piranhas’ sound. Wild, messy guitars that can barely hold a tune together, yet compel you to lick it up, a bass line as thick and bouncy as Glen Matlock’s balls, drums that sound as if they’re being beaten like a redheaded stepchild, and the clincher, snotty fuckin’ vocals that are so irritating they make you wanna give the vocalist a lobotomy. You get two originals full of energy and potency and a cover of “Train Kept A Rollin” that makes the original sound like it was recorded in the Stone Age. This is what punk-rock sounds like; and this is going to be one of the premier records of 2001.

Blank Generation (JD)

With members of a number of notable Detroit bands, PAUL E. ESTER & the CRUEL SHOES make a helluva name for themselves on their excellent first 7", Eyeliner. The first song, “All Your Friends Hate You Now” has an amazingly catchy chorus, which the singer spits out in a wonder snarl that’s pure Detroit. The guitars are sharp and deadly as a box of Gillette razors, doubling up on each other to slice through chords with a howling buzz. “Eyeliner” sounds almost like a DEAD BOYS outtake, with vivid lyrics sung with an air of disdain, killer guitars and solid rhythm section, all working together. Then, just for yucks, they throw in a cover of “Train Kept A Rollin’,” which works much better than you might think. They do the song justice, adding their own touch of fireworks to the classic. Dare I say these five guys might have one of the best bands in Detroit right now? Since that CLONE DEFECTS album has gone MIA, check this out for a real dose of snarling Midwest punk. This is one you’ve gotta get this month!

Maximum RocknRoll (Mark Murrmann)