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Butch Walker and the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites – The Rise and Fall Of…

April 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Sony Music, 2006butchWalker_300

It had me at “The Rise and Fall Of”, which is the opening album words from one of my favorite albums of all time.  David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” came to me late but I was immediately drawn into the tales of starmen and stardust, so with those words as well as an amusing back up group called the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites, I figured this was a must listen.  I was also curious about the parental advisory sticker for ‘sexual content’ on the front cover, which I wouldn’t have expected from a group that looks like it’s just having a good time.  Okay, perhaps the leg featured on the front was enough of a clue, but come on, how much sexual content could be featured on a record to earn such a tag? Given that it’s 2018, I doubted that this was the second coming of Rocky Horror.

The band doesn’t waste any time getting started, as one immediately believes that Butch Walker and his crew are a glam band, as “Hot Girls in Good Moods” just oozes T.Rex all over the place with purring vocals, heavy guitar riff, and swinging chorus.  At least the inclusion of this song will satisfy any David Bowie nuts that pick up this album thinking it’s a … ahem.  “Ladies and Gentleman… ‘The Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites” and “Bethamphetamine (Pretty Pretty)” continue the buoyant mood and tales of people having a very good time.  “Too Famous To Get Fully Dressed” almost speaks for itself, for if you’ve ever woken up still at last night’s party and you need to go get breakfast without looking like a total wreck, this song’s for you.

“Dominoes” shows up at about the right time for a quiet, piano and strings ballad to break up the bedlam.  I’m usually not one to give much credence to soft tunes out of the blue, but I think Walker put together a particularly poignant song about the memories of a wife long gone.  How this fits into the album’s theme after songs about girls and parties is beyond me, but I liked it anyway.  Of course, once “Dominoes” is over it’s right into the blitzkrieg of “Paid to Get Excited” and rest of the boisterous record.  Momentary pause in the whirlwind apparently over!

The second half of the record finishes at a slightly less urgent pace as the first half, with “The Taste of Red” posing as a light pop tune including violins and an imagined summer breeze.  “Rich People Die Unhappy” is more of a country song while “This is the Sweetest Little Song” completely draws things down enough such that one gets the hint that the bar is closing on this formerly raucous record.  The album finishes with “When Canyons Ruled the City” and its nearly two minute wordless sing-along that has just enough pep to end well on the middle ground.

Check out a live version of “Bethamphetamine”, with go-go dancers and plenty of splendor:  Bethamphetamine (live).  Butch Walker also has a website where you can listen to some of his music and catch up on things: Butch Walker

Though this record didn’t end up as Ziggy and the Spiders returned, it did turn out to be a very good, entertaining album that never got too dull or rote.  There are enough catchy tunes on here that make it worth a repeated listen, especially “Hot Girls…” and “Bethamphetamine”.  Some of the songs near the end of the record lost that early spark, but I suppose one can’t keep churning out the sugar for the ears the entire 40+ minutes.

Butch Walker is still putting out music twelve years later, though of course he looks more grizzled and mature compared to the spiky haired guy in that “Bethamphetamine” video.  It’s impressive how much output he’s produced since 2002 (9 records, 2 live albums, 5 EPs) given that I, er, unfortunately hadn’t heard of him before picking up this record.  Although his recent stuff is more tempered and resembles modern rock that sounds like it wants to be on a TV show, his youthful voice has held up very well since he put out “Rise and Fall…”.  And so, regarding that particular record, for a good pop rock pick-me-up consider giving this record a spin.

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The Victoria Lucas – Self-titled

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

No No No Records, 2006victoriaLucas

When presented with the opportunity to buy a brand new, unwrapped record for less than a dollar, there are a few things that may pass through your mind.  For instance, you may get some kind of inner seizure when the phrases “new album” and “one dollar” collide.  Wha-a-a-a-t?!  If you somehow can ignore your impulsive buying habits, you may also catch that the album is swathed in colorful art that features houses and people in berets.  Forget that the phrase “The Victoria Lucas Hit the Ground Running Fast” is manically scratched across the album cover, or that the band comes from a foreboding record label; this is an album that demands one to take a chance on it.  Okay, maybe I’m the one.  The only one.  Fine.

Based out of Brooklyn, this quintet has a fine, digestible pop rock sound.  Early songs like “Tucson” and “Back to Junk” remind me a lot of some mid-to-late nineties indie rock.  I hear a lot of Breeders in “Back to Junk” with the quivering main guitar lick, while “Tucson” just sounds like a collection of low key, jangling guitar types of bands from those days.  The guitar riff from “Allegheny/Monogahela”, as well as the combination of Juan Stacey’s and Kathy Horne’s unflashy vocals, give an air of earlier Pavement.  Note that these three songs, aside from a bit of strings, are pretty much straightforward pop rock.  I like that these tunes don’t try to get too quirky for the sake of being different, which topples most rock efforts with the ‘trying too hard’ label.

The record rolls along very nicely before it runs into its first skippable tune of “Wheels of Commerce”, which qualifies as such mainly because it is overly long and strays away from that easygoing guitar sound by incorporating noisy horns and a prolonged ending.  I know that eventually a band feels the need to mix things up a little, but man, it was going so well up to this point.   Thankfully the following tune, “Finely Street Hooker Song” , has the upbeat pep of the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner”, which probably has something to do with the inclusion of a bouncing organ sound.  The ending guitar bit tears it up excellently.  “Narcissus”, the last track, eases out the record like Pavement might during one of their ‘fast’ songs during “Wowee Zowee” (which is to say, not fast at all but with enough energy to move it along well).  I’m glad the Victoria Lucas decided not to get too mushy in the end, which usually makes for a dull impression after an otherwise exuberant effort.

Despite not being able to find anything about these guys on the Internet aside from a minimal bit at Allmusic, the Victoria Lucas still have a MySpace page to hear some of their music.  Also, check out their charming video about their busted van and Pep Boys.

The Victoria Lucas have proved that at a mere dollar one can hear a very good pop album from an obscure band.  I knew it could happen!  Sure, it takes a lot of gambles, but I found that nearly every track on this record is worthy of a spin at least once.  It’s too bad that despite the glut of pop rock acts already out there that no one has heard (or heard of) the Victoria Lucas.  It might be partially due in fact that these guys were finished after one record, but if they bothered to make a follow up I think that with their abilities they would have made a blip in a few people’s minds.  Maybe they found that there was a better career in album cover art …

Alan Braxe and Friends – The Upper Cuts

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Vulture Records, 2005

Truth be told, I thought I had stumbled on an early eighties folk rock act that wanted to be edgy.  Whenever “and friends” accompanies a guy’s name I’m thinking those friends are the ones with fiddles, slide guitar, and perhaps backup vocals.  The brash font of the album title, as well as the vinyl wear effect behind it, just screamed Chicago or Billy Squier.  I’ve seen enough of those record covers at flea markets to be wary of them, but I thought that for just a quarter I had to know (HAD to know) what Braxe and his honky tonk buddies sounded like.

I am so glad I was completely wrong about Braxe, but I am also so glad that I stumbled on an excellent record as well.  Alan Braxe of France is apparently a dance music maker that releases vinyl singles very infrequently, so this record serves as a compilation of twelve of his efforts.  One of his apparent friends is Fred Falke, known for his own dance music, so with two of these types of artists this turns out to be one big hip shaking party with no signs of haystacks or cowboy hats.  Score!!

I could go into each track, but a big surprise for me was my recognition of “Music Sounds Better With You”.  I have heard it somewhere before, really liked it, then forgot about it.  It’s a modern disco song that repeats the chorus quite often in its nearly seven minute span.  Not that you’ll notice as you abandon all semblance of responsibility as you jerk left and right to the groove, sloshing your cocktail all over the place.  Or a coffee mug, as in my case.  It’s a light enough song so one doesn’t feel overwhelmed, but it’s also got a strong rhythm that should get a room full of people to get down.

I also loved the airiness of “In Love With You”, the warmth of “Love Lost”, and the straight on dance anthem of “Rubicon”.  Everything just sounds so easy and casual, so if you want to dance you can but you can also just soak it all in.  Despite the overall enjoyment, there are moments when some songs do sound a bit dated, even if one doesn’t mind so much.  “At Night” has a drum machine and a chugging synth effect that immediately brought “Miami Vice” to mind.  It’s a killer track, and I know Crockett and Tubbs would have approved its appearance during a chase scene.  “Vertigo” also clearly comes across as something from the nineties with its cymbal pop and, again, drum machine.  Sure, the song was actually made in 1997, but I’m thinking early nineties like Technotronic or La Bouche.  Hey, there’s still room for enjoyment of those kinds of tunes, right?

Listen to all sorts of great tracks from Alan Braxe on his MySpace and Soundcloud sites.  By the way, the groovin’ video for Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” may have been when I first heard the 1998 track.  Those silver guys should have been stars.

Scoring this for only a quarter felt pretty good, but the ultimate satisfaction came from spinning it.  This is exactly the kind of music I’m veering towards these days since I feel a bit maxed out on punk and rock.  I admit, I like to get some dancing in when I am in the swivel chair and have my coffee mug at a safe distance.  Perhaps that’s why I’m more forgiving of Top 40 these days since it’s all dance music to me (compared to that awful tripe from the early to mid-2000’s).  If Alan Braxe was an American artist who could pump out the hits every other week he would no doubt be huge.

But I am glad he’s not, for he’s more into taking his time to get that song right than throwing everything against the wall and hope a hit sticks.  Braxe is still busy these days, putting out exactly one single and quite a few remixes since “The Upper Cuts” was released in 2005.  Since he’s mixing, producing and doing other sorts of music jobs, one might not see output from Braxe for months.  However, if one keeps up with certain websites there will always be a reason to keep those dancing shoes nearby.

Oh, and Golden Dollar for sure.  That’s two in one week, woah!

Prince Fatty Meets the Mutant Hifi – Return of Gringo!

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Mr. Bongo Records, 2011

Whether it’s Clint Eastwood, “Red Dead Redemption” or an odd book here and there, I’ve had an affection for western-themed entertainment.  I know it has all been romanticized, for living on the edge with crime, natives, and hot weather abound does not sound like a good time.  But like those James Bond movies, I’ll throw away reality for a bit and sit through a spaghetti western if I’ve got the time (by the way, ever see “The Great Silence”?  That’s a pretty good one.).  Music with western themes isn’t as common place, but when I have heard it (like Spindrift) I’ve gotten great vibes from it.  So of course, seeing a varmint stare down another varmint in a dusty town far from here on a colorful album cover is a shoe-in for my money.  Plus, there’s a song called “The Good, the Vlad, and the Ugly” on here.  It’s gotta be good.

This disc is as good as its cover depicts.  Mixmaster Prince Fatty (Mike Pelanconi) and multi-talented musician Mutant Hifi (Nick Coplowe), as well as a huge accompaniment of instrumentalists, lay out some of the hippest ska-tinged western music I’ve ever heard.  Okay, perhaps it’s the only ska-tinged western music I’ve ever heard.  Regardless, the entire album paints a picture of a bunch of guys in bowling shirts and cowboy hats skanking at the OK Corral.  It’s not a typically rapid ‘pick it up, pick it up’ type of ska, though.  More along the lines of the Skatalites where you can sit back with beer, have a conversation, and nod your head slightly with the beat.

The first track “Transistor Cowboy” starts off with a gunshot (possibly the result of the album cover’s showdown) and bulls into a gritty tune that sounds like a combination of surf rock and ska.  Despite the audio violence, the whistling that transitions the first two tracks gives off another impression of that sixties western theme.  The multitude of saxophones, trombones, and trumpets on “Black Powder” certainly help invoke that feeling as well, so it isn’t long before one may wish that this really was the soundtrack of a movie one hasn’t seen yet.

It is a blaring start, but most of the rest of the album provides a more relaxing set of tunes.  “Plague of Locusts”, “Across the Border”, and “Up the Creek” show more of a ska influence than a surf one, which allows for a steady toe-tapping session for listeners.  There are no vocals to be heard aside from the occasional clip from a movie/TV show, so one doesn’t have to worry about getting disrupted during one’s low-brimmed, pistol-packing daydream.  The whistling returns on “Son of a Thousand Fathers”, as well as those fantastic horns in a sweeping enchantment.  Mutant Hifi even does his best Dick Dale impression with the guitar, making it one of the strongest tracks on the record.

Though every song sounds like just a cool ska-western concoction that one hasn’t heard before, “The Good, the Vlad, and the Ugly” will probably snap everyone to attention with its take on the “Tetris” video game theme.  The horns, guitar (of course), and the creepy chanting in the background give it a sound that could follow a gunslinger as he or she crosses a desert expanse.  Or it could just be a scene where a bunch of odd shaped blocks are shooting it out while yelling out “Four lines!!”.

Have a look at what Prince Fatty is up to on his website.  You could also listen to the entire record on SoundCloud, but I would be remiss if I didn’t send you over to Forces of Geek for a very comprehensive review and history lesson.  I can write a review, but that guy can take you even further!

This is a great disc.  It reminds me of all sorts of things, from old ska and reggae artists to those spaghetti westerns I like to sit through once in awhile.  It has been awhile since I’ve given out one of these, but Prince Fatty, Mutant Hifi, and the entire band deserve the Golden Dollar.  Not only does this album have a unique swing to it but it also provides an excellent soundtrack to whatever gathering one pulls together.  Not sure how the duo is going to top this one, unless it is a take on film noir or the musical.  Whatever it is I will certainly be there to hear it.

The Gymslips – Rocking With the Renees: The Punk Collection

July 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Captain Oi! Records, 1999

Well, you know how I am by now I would think.  I see something from Captain Oi! records with an album cover that has an illustrated story of what looks like someone’s day.  Then there’s the front-and-center pair of jubblies that sort of overshadows the fact all of the ladies involved on the cover have short hair and look a bit tough.  So yes, when I picked this up I figured it as a punk record which made it a bonafide gimme when it comes to attracting my hard earned quarters.  I was a bit confused by what the band name represented (turns out it’s a full length tunic with a pleated skirt that kids wear to school) as well as the fact that the title of the album references a group called the Renees.  Two group names?  Jubblies?  What’s going on?  Let this be a lesson to any dollar bin shopper that when one begins to over think their purchase, they should just pop themselves in the eye and hand over the money.  Why bother with the details?

The Gymslips sound as they look, and that is blue collar rock ‘n roll.  However, whereas one might think there’s a lot of yelling and abrasive guitar screeching the Gymslips actually have a pop edge with a bit of humor.  The introduction of “Renees” (pronounced ree-knees) includes a chorus of “We’re the Renees/here we come/1-2-3/and up your bum”.  Hmm, oh really?  One of my favorite tracks, “Drink Problem” follows with an exceptionally catchy chorus of “Whiskey makes you frisky/gin makes you sin/brandy makes you randy/and rum makes you …”.  The band trails off, but if you’re good with rhyming and can think of a word that relates to being randy, well, there you have it.  The speedy pop punk of these songs begin the record off excellently, and if you like that no frills sound then the rest of the record is your kind of thing.

Along with their British accents, which sound a bit cockney, the allure of the Gymslips are their song subject choices.  They have a song about “Face Lifts”, which details a woman’s unfortunate vericose vein issue as well as a lady who is “a big fat lump at 21 going thin on top”.  Oof.  The liner notes mention that the song “Yo Yo” is titled so because it’s about someone whose underwear tends to go up and down.   I merely like the title of “Silly Egg”, which is a term used as an endearing thing to call someone else for being goofy.  Oh, those British.  The Gymslips do manage to get serious once in awhile, for “Thinking of You” is a light pop love song about yearning for another.  This gives the Gymslips a little bit of depth, though most of their songs are lighter fare so don’t think you’ll be wrapped up in too much emotion during the 27 tracks.

Unfortunately as the album continues on the lyrics and liner notes go away in the booklet, which is a pity since they were enlightening.  Along with the loss of information comes with a dip in interesting songs, for they get more polished and a lot more eighties.  Synthesizers, proper singing, and a general departure from the pop punk origins turn the Gymslips into just another band from that era.  There are remnants of the old Gymslips on songs like “Wonderland”, which if one gets by the prominant synthesizers one will appreciate the nearly spoken vocals and the catchy refrains.  The group leans a little more towards Blondie’s path on songs like “Loves Not the Answer”, where nearly all of the grit is gone and is replaced by a band that is enjoying the comforts of lightweight, toss off pop.   It’s not the greatest send off given the earlier songs, but since these later tracks are from 1984 I suppose it is understandable (or even inevitable).

It is amazing to see that a rather obscure UK pop punk band band from the eighties has a French fansite up!  And it’s being updated … since 2001!  Definitely check that place out for pictures or go to the MySpace page to hear a few tunes.

Ultimately, half the album had the eighties garage pop/punk sound that I love, which made it worth the purchase by far.   Even with the latter half of the record saturated by eighties musical trends, nearly every song has a catchy element that makes the whole record fun to listen to.   It helps that this collection of tunes is most of what the Gymslips released via vinyl singles, so it gives a pretty good overview of what the Gymslips were about during their half decade tenure.  And really, aside from a few tracks on some seven inch records, this CD is pretty much everything one is needs to get a great taste of the Gymslips.  Given that I got it for an affordable price perhaps readers will have the same kind of luck if they look around.

The Rondelles – Shined Nickels and Loose Change

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

K Records, 2001

So one day I saw all this money on the ground of a music store and got excited.  I started snatching at the nickels and dimes and got frustrated when they didn’t materialize between my fingers.  Twenty minutes later I smacked my head and realized that, duuuh, the coins are on the album cover of some band!  I mean, p’shaw!  So given that the change nearly adds up to a dollar it was destiny to turn my frustration into jubilation.  Well, at least I hoped so.

It turns out that this young (and I mean high school young) quartet from New Mexico put out a few records before releasing this collection of rarities and non-album tracks.  I suppose fans of the band at the time were thrilled that this was created, for if much of the group’s material exists on hard to find (or lukewarm to purchase) 7 inch records and compilations, then it’s nice to have everything in one place.  Still, is it worth picking up if one hasn’t heard of ’em at all?

What I really dig about the Rondelles is their raw and youthful energy.  There isn’t much in regard to production or cleverness on this release, and I imagine it’s the same across all of their records.  The band really just sounds like a group who likes to get together and bash away.  “Safety In Numbers” and its slightly more than two minute length is a fantastic representation of what the band tends to deliver.  There’s Juliet Swango’s (who sorta looks like a young Winona Ryder, by the way) rather deep vocals amidst Oakley Manson’s rapid drumming that keeps up a punk air, though during the breaks the band shouts out as if they were cheerleaders.  The Rondelles keep up the energy with a combination of chugging guitar and a particularly active mini organ on “Shimmybecker”, which makes one wonder about the place of a mini organ in rock ‘n roll.  I suppose the same could be asked of the Boss’ saxophone or Jethro Tull’s flute, so apparently anything goes as long as the volume is loud at some point, eh?

An artist that I don’t hear covered too often is Madonna … I mean how are you supposed to cover “Justify My Love” anyway?  The Rondelles, however, felt the need to have a go with Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” in a sped up way, which actually sounds pretty good if you want to hear the song without the drama.  By the way, do you remember when “Like A Prayer” was a controversial song due to the video?  As far as I know, no member of the Rondelles made out with the Jesus statue on a pew when recording this song, so clearly they’re just trying to stick to the music here.  Another cover, “Cafeteria Rock” by the Shimmy Beckers, is a thrill with its refrain of simply “Food fight!”.  Unlike “Like a Prayer”, this cover seems a little more relative to their high school lives and sounds such given the spirited way it is sung.  Then there’s “Angels We’ve Heard On High” that finally adds a pop rock element to a Christmas classic.  I was tired of hearing those choirs anyway.

To get a few listens in, the Rondelles are still spinning for free on MySpace and have a spot at Last.fm as well.

As my first Rondelles record, this is an excellent introduction to the band.  B-sides records don’t usually work that way but I feel that every song on “Shined Nickels and Loose Change” represent a consistent pop rock punch without dabbling too deeply in production.  The covers aren’t trying to be anything fancy, the music always ends up with tons of power chords and drum presence, and Swango keeps it low key throughout with that voice of hers.  For only a dollar this turned out to be well spent money on fourteen tracks.  Unfortunately this did turn out to be the Rondelles’ last release before they, I dunno, went off to college or something.  It’s a pity, though I imagine when the group looks back at their high school yearbook they might look at those times differently than some of us hip Math Team members.

I actually did go out and get a hold of their first album after hearing this one and, well, I wasn’t all that impressed.  I found that the songs on that record weren’t catchy enough or nearly as interesting.  Perhaps this B-sides collection gets the band at their most creative period, where they only had to concentrate on one or two songs at a time given the medium the songs were pressed on.  When asked to get ten or so tracks on tape, maybe the group felt a little stretched.  Or maybe I just had to spin the record a few more times, I dunno.  I suppose one album that works is fine for me.  As for the rest of you, based on my experience, see if you can pick this record up one way or another.  It’s a great one for the rock ‘n roll enthusiasts.

The Blue Van – The Art of Rolling

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

TVT Records, 2005

One of the great things about buying one dollar bands is getting other one dollar albums by the band.  I reviewed the Blue Van’s 2006 record “Dear Independence” and thought it was a great surprise from a bunch of Danish rockers, so in this case I managed to get their debut album.  This could go one of two ways.  In one instance, the debut album could be worse than the second record due to shoddy production or meandering direction of interest.  The other possibility is that the debut album is a near match to the sophomore effort, meaning the band decided not to change anything (and thus get pegged as ‘limited’ or ‘stuck’).  Really, for a buck I wouldn’t mind the consistency.  Now that I think of it, there is a third tack that the band could have taken, and that was to change their sound completely.  So, ulp, I could have purchased the band’s initial love of covers of Danish traditional songs, a misguided attempt at modern Danish disco, or recordings of actual blue vans driving around a parking lot.  Now you know that there truly is a lot of danger involved as a bargain bin music reviewer.  I live on the edge… of taste!

Well, I lucked out.  It turns out that this record sounds very similar to their follow up album, though it seems to actually have more energy.  The opener of “Word From the Bird” is a warm cacophony of guitar, drums, and organ with vocalist Steffen Westmark’s ceiling-touching efforts completing the scene.  Even though it’s just over two minutes in length, “Product of DK” and “I Remember the Days” seamlessly continue the romp.  These early songs, as well as the rest of the two to three minutes rockers spread throughout the record, easily emit a sense of having a real good time.

As the tunes continue their rousing level to “The Remains of Sir Maison” (yet another good rock song), one begins to wonder if the Blue Van will ever take it down a notch.  You may say “Hey!  When should anyone ever wish for the party to end?”  I agree with that, and yet the continuation of the same level of volume and excitement can work against a band if the songs all blend together.  Westmark’s voice continues to reach the high register, the organ is constantly present, and the cymbals never seem to cease reverberating in my ear.  For five songs in a row, the Blue Van make a case for an amazing band, but one will more likely be left with just that impression more than a favorite song in particular.  Some diversity helps appreciate the band’s talents further.

It almost seems that the band knew it had gone on a little too long with the same old thing, as the Blue Van suddenly veers into the leisurely “Baby, I’ve Got Time” where Westmark relates his hesitancy to hurry out of the warm confines of a bar with his girl.  The light electronic piano introduction to “The Bluverture” reminds me of a Beatles song, but then it turns into a dramatic instrumental that could be used in “Kill Bill, part 3” if ever a movie was going to be made.  It’s a curiously interesting interlude to the bombastic nature of the record, which thankfully allows some pause to soak in what the band had completed up to that point.  Then, of course, it’s back to the party.

“Revelation of Love” and “What the Young People Want” are par for course, but “Mob Rules” at least tries to invoke a bluesy swing before erupting in the second half of the song.  The final song of “New Slough” is probably what the band could have done at the beginning of the record in that it’s eight minutes of sheer rock out.  Why make five songs that sounds somewhat similar when you can make one really long one?  Granted, a long one with such stomach-churning lyrics as “1-2-3, I’d like to look at thee” and “I’m a rebel with a cause/but I ain’t no Richie Rich”.  I know these guys are from Denmark, but reading around a bit it seems that the Danish start learning the English language in the third grade or so.  Okay, so they stink at lyrics, but I suppose if one didn’t care what Westmark was screaming out then this record serves nicely as a fine boost of rock ‘n roll energy.

The Blue Van has an immediately musical website (as in, make sure your speakers aren’t too loud) and a potentially musical MySpace page.  Check out their new stuff on either site … it sounds good.

Whenever I give a Golden Dollar to a band, I always keep an eye out to see how that band is doing.  Even if this was a record that was released before “Dear Independence”, I am still excited that such a band exists in Denmark.  They must (should) be loving these guys over there.  I’m not sure if the Blue Van will ever make it over to the States that often, but if their new album “Love Shot” is any indication of how good they are now, the group should at least pop over to open for someone like the Black Keys.  They’ll likely get pegged as some kind of posthumous garage rock revivalists that are trying to pick up the remains of the Hives’ efforts, but I bet the crowd will love them.  I look forward to the next Blue Van record that comes my way.