As labels like Burning Heart and Birdnest have proved, Sweden has been a hotbed of punk for years. Rather importantly, it has its own sound. Bands like No Fun At All and Millencolin share a common musical root with lots of the pop- and skatepunk bands from the US, but there’s something unique in the way the Swedes approach their art…and it goes deeper than a mere accent on a vocal.
With bands like No Fun At All and Millencolin helping to fly the flag and carry the banner, Sweden has provided plenty of pop punk protein since the 90s. The Hangups follow very much in the tradition of the classic Lookout! Records releases; in fact, this Malmo based trio sound like a product of a time machine experiment to bring back the best bits of Screeching Weasel and Parasites records for their debut EP.
The opening track on this self-titled disc wastes no time in flaunting their love of those particular bands. The whole number really shows a love for Dave Parasite’s melodic charm circa ‘Punch Lines’, while peppering each of the instrumental breaks with a lead guitar that would do Ben Weasel and the more approachable John Jughead proud. Digging a little deeper, obviously the vocal comes with a slight European accent which, much like Hateful Monday, provides some of the charm, but in terms of structure these guys aren’t merely just recycling Ramonescore by the (1-2-3-4) numbers. The chorus, in particular, is impressive showing a slight power pop tendency that might just about reel in a slightly broader audience. In short, if you like pop punk, you’ll love this track – it’s the perfect addition to your next digital mixtape or online playlist.
‘I Don’t Wanna Be With You’, on the other hand, is a straight up Ramones homage, just played more aggressively. In under two minutes, this shows that these Swedes are able to completely nail the style in hand; it also demonstrates their unnamed drummer really knows his way around his kit. The chorus is both sneering and insanely catchy; the lead guitar break casts an ear back to ‘My Brain Hurts’ era Weasel and the sheer energy alone is enough to make this enjoyable. Moving into something a little longer – though still shy of three minutes – ‘Alone’ mixes a punchier, more jagged rhythm with a hugely melodic vocal line. Having used a couple of numbers to warm up, it’s here The Hangups go for broke punctuating most lines with a hefty “whoah” or trusted “oh yeah!”. There are ghosts of so many classic Lookout! bands within the DNA and yet a combination of talent and boundless enthusiasm ensures this sounds anything but stale.
Last up, ‘It’s You’ is an eighty five second belter that is impossible to dislike – provided you’re punkily inclined, of course – and The Hangups take all of their previous traits and pummel them into something a touch more aggressive. While still very much of their own making – something recognisable through the accented voice – their love of pop punk again tips the hat to Screeching Weasel, but also harks back to the faster and more affronting tracks from the earlier part of No Fun At All’s catalogue (something probably ingrained due to geography). Although there’s not much time to sink your teeth in to this track – or indeed, the whole EP – there’s time enough to appreciate Hugo’s deep rattle of a bass and especially the way it locks in firmly with the work of the mystery snare basher.
Obviously, the vinyl version is the best format, but digital buyers get an extra track, ‘Not OK’. There’s little to be said, except that it ploughs a similar furrow to ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With You’ that brings a combination of speed and well worth having…
For fans of Ramonescore sounds, this is an EP that deserves to be in heavy rotation. Yes, it’s short – too short – but there’s a whole world of fun to be had listening and the band’s love for the style creeps through every note. In short, if you love Screeching Weasel, The Apers, Radio Buzzkills, Parasites and/or K7s, you’ll have a new favourite to add to your collection. Grab it as soon as possible.
State Cows are back! The cult Swedish westcoast band will return with a new album ‘Challenges’ in the near future. A Valentines Day update on their official Facebook page claimed it was “still too early to schedule a release date”, but they’re already streaming a couple of new tracks from their Bandcamp page.
You can stream the new tracks ‘I Got The Message’ and ‘Borrowed Time’ below.
Highrider’s 2016 EP really meant business. Within twenty minutes, the Swedish In Flames obsessives growled, thrashed and pounded their way through four almost faultless tunes that owed so much to the past, especially with a root in classic thrash – and yet still sounded contemporary for the time of release. An unlikely soundtrack for the summer, that short look into a world that blended thrash with melodic hardcore and 70s hard rock organs promised so much for the inevitable full length debut. A year on, ‘Roll For Initiative’ expands on those musical themes and results in a more mixed album. Within the eight featured tracks, you’ll hear more of the things that made Highrider an instant success, but also a few experiments that aren’t quite as immediate.
A Swedish performer currently residing in Berlin, Emma Elisabeth makes adult-oriented radio friendly pop. The resultant sound should appeal to those who enjoy Lissie, or perhaps the more wistful side of Stevie Nicks.