Posted Aug. 12, 2004.
Sounds like: An album that proves the Swedes can do more than make great furniture.
So it’s been a few years since the “the” bands first arrived on MTV and the Strokes became a household name; however, only the White Stripes stayed commercially viable while bands like Linkin Park remained on the top of the charts, thanks to all the kids at Six Flags with the buzz cuts and rat tails who buy their records.
Remember the hype? Remember the touting of these bands as the new direction of rock music? Remember the battle of the garage bands at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards where Australian rockers the Vines “battled” Swedish punkers the Hives?
Two years later, with the focus now on any indie rocker with a keyboard and a hook, both bands have released the follow-ups to their breakthrough records - the Vines with “Winning Days” and the Hives with “Tyrannosaurus Hives.”
If this is a rematch, then the Vines need to change their record to “Losing Days.” While the Vines are quickly being forgotten, the Hives have succeeded in an exceedingly strong follow-up to their breakthrough, “Venni Vidi Vicious.”
“Tyrannosaurus Hives” opens with “Abra Cadaver,” a classic Hives explosion of sheer punk rock power. However, the riffs don’t seem as big or as catchy as previous Hives power jams like “Main Offender” or the uber-catchy “Hate to Say I Told You So.” But while listening to “Tyrannosaurus Hives” it becomes increasingly obvious that this is not the point. With the first single “Walk Idiot Walk,” the Hives seem to be channeling Devo and T. Rex, graduating from garage punk to punk with a new wave flair.
The Hives prove to be a more ambitious band on this record. While they remain primarily showmen - with matching outfits and a frenzied, yet cleverly choreographed live show - the Hives employ a more varied use of instrumentation. Strings introduce “Diabolic Scheme” and keyboards are all over the standout track “A Little More for Little You,” with its rah-rah chorus that sounds like its straight from a ‘50s jukebox. The Hives are able to be more adventurous with their simple songs without interfering with their schtick.
“Tyrannosaurus Hives” proves the Hives to not be a one trick pony, but a powerful stallion of rock ‘n’ roll triumphantly galloping across the plains of musical destiny.
Hot Rod Circuit
“Reality’s Coming Through”
Sounds Like: Dashboard Confessional teams up with Saves The Day to learn how to play country music.
Hot Rod Circuit’s last album, “Sorry About Tomorrow,” established them as a fantastic hybrid of country twang and emo-rock. On “Reality’s Coming Through,” the Alabama natives’ latest effort turns in some of its twang for more rock but for the most part stays true to old form.
However, where the band was once regretful, they are now more resentful. Not only is the band’s sound heavier and more intense on songs like “Fear The Sound” and “Tell The Truth,” but also the band’s lyrics hold more pessimistic tones than before.
On “Unfaithful,” the band even accuses, “You’re deceitful, unfaithful, a lie / You’re not telling me something, I know.” The band does stay true to its older style on songs such as “Cheap Trick,” “Crossbow” and “Failure,” but the song with even more twangy kick than usual is “The Best You Ever Knew,” which shows the country extreme of the band.
Some of the heavier stuff on the record doesn’t work as well as the more traditional sounding material, but overall, “Reality’s Coming Through” continues Hot Rod Circuit’s unique style of music that is very appealing. With the proper amount of spotlight, Hot Rod Circuit could be the next big thing simply because of their crossover appeal.
-JORGE DEL PINAL
Les Sans Culottes
Sounds like: The White Stripes studied abroad in Paris and discovered Euro-pop.
Les Sans Culottes - an indie rock band who took their name from soldiers of the French Revolution - probably have a lot of people fooled. The average listener might assume the band is French. Indeed, Les Sans Culottes sings in French, has a Web site with French titles and boasts a moniker that invokes the French fight for independence.
In reality, however, only one of Les Sans Culottes’ seven members hails from France; the rest have been gathered from various locations across the States, like flowers for a somewhat unconventional bouquet that now apparently resides on a table in Brooklyn.
The band’s remarkably unusual sound is, in fact, what draws the listener in. Their combination of garage rock and Euro-pop - with a twist of a certain indescribable sound that is straight out of an Austin Powers movie - is hard to wrap your head around. At first, Les Sans Culottes come across as a bit strange. After all, most indie bands don’t have three different singers that belt out French lyrics like: “Je suis le blanc mange sur l’ile flotant” (“I am the whipped cream on the floating island”).
The magic of Les Sans Culottes, however, lies not in their writing abilities, but rather in their variety. With three singers and a style that shifts from song to song, these faux Frenchies offer a truly solid sophomore album that proves that all you need is a little originality (and a few years of high school French) to capture that je ne sais quoi.
Les Sans Culottes will be playing the Black Cat on Aug. 19. For more information, visit http://www.lessansculottes.com.
Sounds like: Alanis with less of the angst and passion that made her famous.
With her newest album, “So-Called Chaos,” Alanis Morissette again falls short of the genius of her phenomenal 1995 debut “Jagged Little Pill.” However, “Chaos” may become her most successful album since, with several potential radio hits.
The first track, “Eight Easy Steps,” has a catchy India-inspired verse, although the chorus is rather generic. Still, this self-critical piece has energy - an energy that falls flat in most of the other slow-paced songs on the album.
The sitar-saturated love song, “Knees of My Bees,” is one song that’s lacking. Listeners can find a better love song in “Everything,” the first single from the album. In “Everything” Morissette investigates the dual nature of herself, and also thanks someone who accepts “every part” of her, as she sings, “You see all my light and you love my dark ... And you’re still here.”
Another song that may hit radio waves is “Doth I Protest Too Much,” a song that’s easy to sing along to and easy for people to relate to, as it’s about her acting against her feelings.
“This Grudge” features a beautiful refrain and lyrics of forgiveness: “I want to be soft and resolved, clean of slate and released.” This theme pervades “So-Called Chaos,” like other albums since “Jagged Little Pill.”
While Morissette’s introspective lyrics still read as if they’ve been ripped from her journals - a quality that first earned her critical acclaim and public devotion - it seems that by no longer screaming out as a victim, Morissette has lost some of her connection with (what used to be) her screaming fans.
Still, at least her new album doesn’t have any lyrics like, “How about them transparent dangling carrots.”