Results tagged “Swedish punk”

ABKK: Ronny/Mörker

ABKK

Ronny / Mörker
EMFD, 1981

Although bands like Suicide, Nervous Gender, the Stranglers, and the Screamers, among others, made extensive use of synthesizers during the early days of punk, the instrument was always somewhat suspect among the scene's tasemakers and its appearance on a recording was more often a sign of a group's movement towards new wave than an expansion of the boundaries of punk. Still, the relatively prohibitive attitudes towards atypical instrumentation within the punk world did not prevent some of the scene's more experimental bands from effectively incorporating synthesizers into their music. The downside to the synthesizer, of course, is its tendency to make recordings sound like they were produced by tinfoil-clad B-actors pretending to be living on a forlorn space station in the distant future. Then again, the upside to the use of the synthesizer is that it tends to make recordings sound like they were produced by tinfoil-clad B-actors pretending to be living on a forlorn space station in the distant future. Indeed, ABKK's "Ronny / Mörker" disk sounds like the sort of music Jenny Agutter's Jessica 6 might listen to on her way to Carousel in Logan's Run if she were a punk rocker.

Of the two tracks, "Mörker," despite the good folks over at Killed By Death Records making a compelling case for favoring the A-side, may be the better punk song. This isn't to say that "Ronny" with its positively insane synthesizer and tight, energetic rhythm isn't an awesome recording in its own right, especially with vocals evoking the best of Op-era Kjøtt, but "Mörker" dispenses with the weirdly sci-fi vibe of the title track while maintaining the same darkly techno feel in a more pogo-friendly mode. Regardless, the disk is solid through-and-through and stands out as one of those exceptional records that, had it been released by a British or American band (and, accordingly, to a much larger listening public), could easily have been regarded as a genre-expanding recording.

Sobriquet Grade: 88 (B+).

Various Artists: Definitivt Femtio Spänn 6

Various Artists

Definitivt Femtio Spänn 6
RABB, 1997

I picked this sampler up in Oslo when it came out in '97, wholly unaware of the fact that EVA Records (the company behind the remarkably lucrative "Absolute" series of forgettable - and, let us be candid here, downright banal - pop collections) had tried to get the CD taken off of Norwegian shelves because, evidentially, they had trademarked the brand "Definitivt" in that country. Fortunately that didn't happen and the good folks at RABB were able to keep what is a pretty solid disk on the shelves of their neighboring nation's record stores.

At any rate, Definitivt Femtio Spänn 6 admirably collects twenty representative tracks from some of mid-nineties Sweden's better punk and hardcore acts as well as a few quirkier, less readily-categorizable outfits. The first half is, in my opinion, much stronger, foregrounding as it does pop-punk and melodic hardcore. The second half, with a few exceptions, descends into metal and generic grungy stuff. A bit more balance, perhaps, and this disk would be fantastic but, ultimately, it feels too lopsided to listen all the way through in one sitting.

Track Listing:

Track 1. "Theme from Persuaders" (Robert Johnson & the Punchdrunks). Although you'd think opening a punk/hardcore compilation disk with a melancholy bit of keyboard-laced surf rock mightn't be the best idea, you'd be wrong. Robert Johnson and his assembled Punchdrunks are fantastic.

Track 2. "Little Miss Green Eyes" (Stukas). "Little Miss Green Eyes" is one of the disk's better pop-punk tracks. Definitely worth checking out.

Track 3. "Dinner at Ed's" (Stoned). Like many of Sweden's better melodic hardcore bands active in the nineties, Stoned sound as if they're from California. Not that that's bad. I'm just sayin' is all... With super-poppy backing vocals, you'll be singing along to this track in no time.

Track 4. "Let's March" (Abhinanda). The comp's first straight-up hardcore track is typical Abhinanda fare, though I'd venture to say a bit catchier than their average song.

Track 5. "Mitt Cors" (Charta 77). Finally, a Swedish-language song. I've always been partial to Swedish punk and I think the language is actually very well suited to genre. Not nearly as harsh as other Germanic languages, it's relatively high register and palatally-dense phonetic structure almost always lends a softer, more melodic side to what is frequently a heavier brand of punk. Charta 77 uses this juxtaposition perfectly, fashioning a song that is both intense and immediately catchy.

Track 6. "Scottie" (Adhesive). As I have said elsewhere, "despite the song's overt reference to Trekkie culture, 'Scottie' has nothing to do with kitschy American sci-fi. Rather, the song waxes metaphysical, expressing the pain of the speaker's solipsistic existence and questioning whether or not the palpable loneliness he (or she) experiences in "a domestic jail" is, in fact, a ubiquitous emotion spanning all humanity."Despite the song's overt reference to Trekkie culture, "Scottie" has nothing to do with kitschy American sci-fi. Rather, the song waxes metaphysical, expressing the pain of the speaker's solipsistic existence and questioning whether or not the palpable loneliness he (or she) experiences in "a domestic jail" is, in fact, a ubiquitous emotion spanning all humanity."

Track 7. "Pigs" (Saidiwas). Don't let the bits of electronica or the mellow stretches of melodic guitar rock fool you. This is about as anarchistic a punk song as you'll hear nowadays. I'll let you put two and two together and figure out what sort of beings the track title references.

Track 8. "Cold War" (Purusam). The is about as close to metal as hardcore can get and still be called hardcore. What makes the track so cool, though, is the peculiar pairing of pretty standard heavy metal male vocals with those of a poppy-sounding female vocalist. It makes for a really interesting listening experience.

Track 9. "Vem Vegar Tro" (Skumdrum). In a nice little pairing of tracks, Skumdrum's "Vem Vegar Tro" features vocals by one Anna-Lena, the woman whose vocals made "Cold War" such a keeper. Although it is definitely a poppier song, "Vem Vegar Tro" is lyrically as dark as its predecessor, scrutinizing the apathetic and dangerous brand of "no future" nihilism plaguing many of Sweden's younger generation.

Track 10. "Dansa Med Mig" (Coca Carola). Some good call-and-answer melodic hardcore, "Dansa Med Mig" translates literally to "Dance With Me." You just might, though it be closer to headbanging than, say, a tango. . .

Track 11. "The World is Ours" (Separation). Hardcore punk with a bit of grind added to the mix, "The World is Ours" is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Separation. This is a good thing, by the way.

Track 12. "Symbols and Signs" (Cobolt). A metallic grunge track, "Symbols and Signs" sounds like it would have been quite popular stateside had it been released three years earlier. This is not a good thing, by the way.

Track 13. "Soulscarred" (Burst). Hardcore-tinged progressive metal.

Track 14. "Fren Hofors Intet Nytt" (Radioaktiva Räker). Here's another instance of the Swedish language being perfect for hardcore. The rolling 'r' is pressed into service here to brilliant effect, adding what approaches a percussive element to the vocals.

Track 15. "Laughing Boy" (Rösvett). Fans of Poison Idea will probably dig this band.

Track 16. "Living Machine" (Plastic Pride). Modeling themselves on bands like Refused and Helmet, Plastic Pride sound quite a bit like, well, Refused and Helmet. I guess some people like that sort of thing.

Track 17. "Their Integrity Was All Over" (The Scarred). This is emo, but not the crappy stuff that passes for emo today. It's closer to the D.C. hardcore stuff that got all weepy in the late eighties than to the whiny garbage that Hot Topic makes a fortune marketing these days. Still, I'm not terribly impressed. Then again, it doesn't sound like Helmet or Refused, so that's a plus.

Track 18. "Radioshit" (Mögel). Playful punk with a jumpy guitar riff and lyrics in the spirit o the Ramones' "We Want the Airwaves." Not too shabby.

Track 19. "Proficiency" (Final Exit). Another heavy bit of hardcore, "Proficiency" fits in well with the tone of the disk's second half.

Track 20. "Allmosor" (Live) (DLK). A strange way to end the disk, the closing track is basically a cross between a barroom sing-along and a sixties protest song. Not bad, just peculiar.


Sobriquet Grade: 80 (B-).

Various Artists: Quality Punk Rock (Bad Taste Records)

Quality Punk Rock is one of the better samplers to emerge out of the mid-nineties pop-punk boom. Released by Sweden's Bad Taste Records (one of the country's best indie labels) in early 1996, the compilation does not rely too heavily on bands signed to the label, choosing to fashion a "quality" pop-punk record out of contributions from some of Sweden's brighter stars as well as from international acts such as Lagwagon and the Bollweevils instead of cobbling together a mediocre showcase of the label's back catalog. And, for whatever reason, I love the mock-seventies cover. The confused, headphone-wearing girl and the horrible font just feels totally right for the album's campy mood.

Track Listing:

Track 1. "Wind in Your Sail" (Lagwagon). I love this song. Seriously: "I live to watch you fail"? The compilation is worth buying for this one lyric alone. Oh, and the song is about as poppy as any Lagwagon track you'll have heard. It's a shame most people had to wait until 2000 when Lagwagon released Let's Talk About Leftovers to get ahold of this song.

Track 2. "Memories of You" (Pridebowl). Snotty-sounding vocals lamenting a poor father-son relationship. Fortunately, it lacks the syrup of emo.

Track 3. "7 Clicks" (Bollweevils). The Bollweevils rule. That's all you need to know.

Track 4. "Labios De Mierda" (Satanic Surfers). The Satanic Surfers never disappoint. Pop-punk about a "guy who's sure got a way with turds." Oh, the potty humor never stops.

Track 5. "Thought" (Turtlehead). Bass-driven Scottish punk. For some reason, this sounds as if it could be on the Mallrats soundtrack. Just don't ask me why.

Track 6. "Cardboard Boxes" (Loosegoats). Clearly recorded before the band became alt-country (thank God), "Cardboard Boxes" features a pretty impressive lead guitar and is an amusingly chaotic-sounding addition to an otherwise polished-sounding compilation.

Track 7. "Bubble Burst" (Adhesive). One of Adhesive's more intense songs, "Bubble Burst" really hits its stride when, towards the end of the track, after a pretty solid bridge, the lyrics collapse into the musings of a wounded, solipsistic loner and waves of frantic guitar riffs wash over the whole mess.

Track 8. "Killer" (Everyday Madness). Ah, crusty Swedish punk girls. Can it get any better?

Track 9. "Alone" (Astream). Pretty standard Astream fare.

Track 10. "Spearmint" (Slobsticks). Pop-punk occasionally interrupted by bursts of ska.

Track 11. "Somehow" (Passage 4). Although "Somehow" conforms to the relatively poppy sound of the compilation, it has a harder edge than most tracks on Quality Punk Rock.

Track 12. "Dare to Speak" (Scarecrow). If it weren't for the lame "be yourself" lyrics, "Dare to Speak" would be a pretty solid track. Unfortunately, the "don't take shit" and "work hard" messages throughout the song remind me a bit too much of the equally lame stuff I expect from, say, MxPx.

Track 13. "Corruption" (Sarcoblaster). Okay, now this is what most people expect to come out of Scandinavia: hard, loud speedcore.

Track 14. "No Way Out" (Home Grown). Another solid track, "No Way Out" is exactly what you'd expect from Home Grown: silly lyrics ("my dog's inbred"), loads of backing vocals, and fairly straight-forward pop-punk.

Track 15. "Days Like This" (Slobax). What starts out as a relatively average-sounding hardcore track soon becomes something quite different when decidedly un-hardcore vocals join what may be one of the catchiest guitar riffs ever to come out of Uppsalla. And the oohs and aahs are, as NOFX would say, "in just the right places."

Track 16. "Yesterday (When I Was Mad)" (Randy). Despite its occasional use of rapcore vocals, "Yesterday (When I Was Mad) is another delightfully poppy track.


Sobriquet Grade: 88 (B+).

Adhesive: Sideburner

People tend to compare Adhesive to Bad Religion, and for good reason. Indeed, the band's first full-length album, 1996's Sideburner, features the sort of vocal harmonization (the Swedish quartet's oohs and aahs bear more than a passing resemblance to the sound Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz tend to work into their songwriting) and the polished melodic instrumentation one generally associates with Bad Religion. Furthermore, despite writing in a foreign tongue, Adhesive's richly allusive, metaphor-laden lyrics do not shy away from the use of sophisticated vocabulary to convey their meaning.


That said, Adhesive's sound on Sideburner is relatively one-dimensional, though the dimension is, admittedly, a highly-listenable one.

Highlights:

Track 4. "On a Pedestal." Quite possibly the best song on Sideburner, "On a Pedestal" is Adhesive's parable of Faustian ambition (complete with a suitably Mephistophelean shopkeeper) set to catchy melodic hardcore.

Track 5. "Scottie." Despite the song's overt reference to Trekkie culture, "Scottie" has nothing to do with kitschy American sci-fi. Rather, the song waxes metaphysical, expressing the pain of the speaker's solipsistic existence and questioning whether or not the palpable loneliness he (or she) experiences in "a domestic jail" is, in fact, a ubiquitous emotion spanning all humanity.

Track 7. "Scent of Life." While not wholly original, "Scent of Life" is a hook-heavy statement of an individual's existential self-actualization.

Sobriquet Grade: 85 (B).
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