SWEDES IN THE GARAGE (TIME TO ROCK)
by Bob Pomeroy
There were signs of something brewing even before the Strokes broke wide. There were signs before Time Magazine discovered the Hives. The groundwork was laid by the folks at Estrus Records. They kept the cult of the big beat going while others looked for something more refined. The call of the garage spread from Bellingham, Washington’s Garage Shock festival to Coney Island’s Cave Stomp and to points far and wide. Now it looks like the Strokes, The Hives and the White Stripes are the vanguard of a garage band revolution. Let’s take a look at the reinforcements just hitting the beach.
Is Sweden the new breading ground for garage? The Hive are not the only Swedes to take rock and roll back to the basics. Maybe it’s something about the long dark winters that makes bashing out feral rock chaos so appealing. Whatever it is, Sahara Hotnights and the Flaming Sideburns make a strong case for Stockholm, rock city!
Sahara Hotnights really should break out when they hit America. Their debut disc on Jetset is primal estrogen-soaked riffage. Their sound is brash hedonistic fury. Think of Joan Jett hijacking Cheap Trick for a night of street racing and you have Sahara Hotnights (in rock critic shorthand). “Alright, Alright” and “On Top of Your World” have the kind of infectious hooks and that makes your pelvis do the Elvis while you sing along oblivious to how silly you might look. Songs like “Fire Alarm” were made for blasting out of car stereos on Saturday nights! Will they score a bunch of hit singles? I think they should.”flamingsideburns”
Another bunch of Swedes have the audacity to name their American debut “The Flaming Sideburns Save Rock n’ Roll.” It’s hard to tell if that’s a plea or a boast. The Flaming Sideburns do take things back to basics with wire-bending lead guitars and cheesy organ riffs pumping up their passionate noise. I’m not so taken with these guys to say they should be screaming out of car radios around the world. I will say they’ll chase the blues out of town based on an overload of kinetic energy anywhere they play! If they hit my town, I’m going.
Just to prove that this garage explosion isn’t just a conspiracy of Yanks and Swedes, Devil Doll Records delivers “A Fistful of Rock n Roll (Volume 9)” to map out the international dimensions of this phenomenon. Sometimes it’s hard to make a distinction between garage, punk and primal metal. Devil Doll doesn’t make the distinction with this compilation and I don’t think it’s worth my time to try. Suffice it to say that all of the bands on this disc play primal, in your face rock. The band come from all over the map. The disc opens with the Hellacopters laying down a greasy garage beat. The Lambs follow with a slab of hyperactive grindcore. Both of these band are from Finland. New York’s Bisapiens sound like Queen impersonating the Ramones. How’s that for a scary image? Elsewhere, we find more Swedes, more Finns, more Yanks along with some French and British bands cranking it out. Not every track is great, but taken as a whole this disc is good for getting you pumped up for some sort of cardio workout. What sort of workout is up to you!
Will garage be the next big thing? I won’t venture a guess. I can tell you that these particular records will get your heart pumping and your ass shaking. So much the better if it’s in a bar with other people doing the same thing. Me, I have to keep my blinds drawn to keep from scaring the neighbors.