Posts Tagged ‘Denmark’

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.


Powersolo – Egg

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Crunchy Frog Records, 2008

If I’m not loving rock n roll, I’m loving breakfast.  So hey, if you’re going to throw an egg on the cover of your record I’ll consider hitting up a diner nearby and read the liner notes with a side of pancakes, sausage, and home fries.  I’m not sure what possessed Powersolo to feature the egg prominently in all the photos for the record, but it certainly stands out without too much effort.  If only the music was equally worth the appetite.

The Danish trio Powersolo are certainly a rock band but with a quirky twist.  This approach could be a bit of a risk around here, for a) Americans like their rock and b) Americans may not like quirk with their rock.  Maybe it’s a Danish thing, for I had trouble thinking of too many tongue-in-cheek bands that have had a prominent stay in our musical consciences.  The only one I could think of was the Presidents of the United States, and they’re not from around here either.  Regardless of what these guys find funny, their musicianship is quite enjoyable if you take out the words.  “Messerschmidt” is an excellent, mostly instrumental dragster-like rocker that features some crafty organ work by a guy named Palle Hjort.  The energizing background of “Dans Les Rues De Paris” reminds one of some kind of updated 60s dance track with people doing the mashed potato with pointed enthusiasm.  However, the song is in french and translates to “In the Streets of Paris”, so for all I know they’re jamming wildly about berets.

Unfortunately, the quirkiness aspect of the group just frustrated me.  The vocalist, Kim Kix, varies between sounding like Moby and fiddling with his tone so as to be rather obnoxious at times.  In “Dumb Dumb Dumb” it sounds as if he’s trying his best Bee Gees impression, despite the band playing a fine, sinister-sounding composition that could have been written by Tomoyasu Hotei.  So, in a sense, Kix ruins it.  Then there’s the similarly hard western-sounding rocker of “Plasma Crystal Dope” that has Kix sounding like a nu metal guy raving about smoking that crystal dope.  Trust me, it sounds awful. I will admit that the pensive sound of “Gentle on the Nards” is complemented greatly by an agonized ranting towards the end, which has the singer throwing himself at the listener’s feet and desperately wanting not to die.  It is an interesting way for a record to go out, but it was only one of a few tracks that made me think these guys were remotely amusing.  The band clearly feels that their songs with a wink are hilarious, but I felt that the record would have sounded better if it was all instrumentals and they left their humor in Denmark.

I must say that I don’t musically know much from the Dutch … but there’s gotta be other Danish rock bands out there that don’t try to be clever, right?  Know of any?  I’d like to give the country another chance, because these guys didn’t do it for me despite the delicious cover art.  Powersolo has been releasing records at a pretty good rate and, if longevity is to be considered credible, the group must be somewhat popular in their home country.  I’m sure if they ever tour around here they’re probably a laugh to watch in person, but from what I’ve heard from this record, they’re mostly causing groans.

Categories: Bust Tags: , , ,