TINNITUS - Backyard Babies (Liquor and Poker)
Whether by coincidence, design, or default, it seems most of the bands I enjoy don't appear to be the picture of robust health. Of course an unnatural pallor (motel tan, TV tan - call it what you will) and
nicotine/alcohol/chemical dependency just may be part of the job description.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Sweden's Backyard Babies are providing food and sustenance for any back monkeys, but the photos which accompany "Tinnitus," a compilation of previously-released tracks designed to introduce the band to us Yanks (ala Gearhead's "Riff After Riff" Wildhearts disc), reveal four post-holocaust vampires straight out of
Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend," zombies fresh out of last night's grave, pounding on your door and hoping to cradle your brain bucket before the nuclear winter sets in.
Considering that Backyard Babies have been skidding and fishtailing their way around the guttersnipe blues/metallic-sheened power pop/punk block for quite some time now, it may be somewhat misleading to label them Scandinavia's most promising goodtime shitkickers since Hanoi Rocks, but I've already said it so it's too late. These ragamuffins play and sing
like they've nothing to lose and when you really stop and think about it, they don't. Approaching each opportunity for glory like it's your last still has to account for something, doesn't it?
"Tinnitus" rolls on down the highway full of strut and stomp - Morse code feedback bleeps and picks running up guitar strings - mixing equal dollops of glam, punk, and gypsy and bringing the grog to a full simmer. Despite its title and proclamation that "making' enemies is good," "Brand New Hate" explodes with cranked guitars, anthemic power, and the sound of drummer Peder Carlsson evaporating into a small smudge of petroleum by-product.
But back to the big guitars of Dregen and singer Nicke Borg for a moment - alternately swirling, hard wired, and howling, propelling a string of cluster bombs like "A Song For The Outcast," "The Clash," "Made Me Madman," and the Wildhearts-monickered "Minus Celsius" into the thinning ozone. Lunging for the brass ring, they're twin turbines revved to the red line, kicking out the jams in front of some sort of funeral pyre like an ungodly Billy Duffy/Andy McCoy/Mike Ness Hydra.
In spite of the flotsam and jetsam Backyard Babies leave in their wake, though, it's the two songs here which steer clear of the wreckage which are most memorable. The laddish "Friends" shakes, shimmies, and swivels its hips around a flat-out invigorating sing-along hook that reminds the listener of everything that used to be great about Slade and Mott The Hoople, playing to the cameras and featuring a gloriously short but gleaming Dregen solo. And in a more perfect world, the pop flirtation of defiant yet resigned album-closer "Look At You" would surely guarantee huge paychecks for wide-eyed band members.
As much as I love The Wildhearts, I can't help but wonder if Ginger is hearing the distant rumble of thunder being stolen. - Clark Paull
TOTAL 13 - Backyard Babies (MVG)
Following the recording and subsequent release of the first two studio LPs by Sweden's The Hellacopters, then 'copters guitarist Dregen, might well have foreseen the change in direction and sound of the 'copters. From straight-ahead MC5, Stooges, Dead Boys, Radio Birdman, etc., raw, punk hard rock to a sound with a strong hint of Southern flavor /Comfort. Dregen then made the concrete decision to go full time with his other punk rock-n-roll combo, The Backyard Babies.
The Backyard Babies comprising Nicke Borg and Dregen (vocals, guitars), Johan Blomquist (bass) and Peter Carlsson (drums), seem to deliver the over-the-top, pummeling punk / hard rock as begun by the finest Detroit citizens The Stooges and The MC5 and New York's finest The Ramones, New York Dolls, but also seem to throw in other influences particularly British punk i.e., Sex Pistols, Damned, etc., and British Heavy metal, i.e., Black Sabbath and Motorhead.
'Made me Madman' opens the album and is a killer choice with the rhythm section slashing and unshakeable, with plenty of over the top guitar work from Borg and Dregen.|
Other highlights of the album include Track three 'Highlights' with big guitar sounds to make Tony Iommi proud, 'Look at You' (which has been lifted as a single and which a video clip exists) possibly their most Ramones-inspired moment, 'Spotlight' a killer nod to Motorhead with more over-the-top guitar work than you can poke a stick at, with 'Eight-Balled' and 'Ghetto You' providing further surprises on an album, which can get really slash and burn, but also turn up some unexpected use of harmonies and peculiar instruments like cello and acoustic guitar.
Perhaps surprisingly or not surprisingly, Nicke of the Hellacopters co-writes on a couple of tracks.
For a debut album the Backyard Babies you would expect to have plenty to be proud of, this disc is one you should track down, should you be keen on glam and punk. - Simon Li
MAKING ENEMIES IS GOOD - Backyard Babies (BMG)
The second studio CD has arrived from the Backyard Babies and it appears to be a distinctly more focused recording by a band, looking to distill some classic punk and hard rock influences with a very modern sound.
The opening track 'I Love to Roll' seems to draw on the kind of hard rock begun by AC-DC and Kiss, but retains typical punk attitude with killer chorus lines "I love to roll, with the sex,... drugs, 1,2,3,4,... I Love it Hate it. Love it."
The track from which the CD derives its title, "Brand new Hate", is a real standout. Foot to the floor, four on the floor pedal to the metal punk / metal fireworks mixed up with dashes of heavy rock pummelled for years by Rose Tattoo.
Track five 'Star War' has ex-Hellacopters, Dregen taking the mike, with another fine punk meets hard rock crunching rock-n-roll tune.
Both tracks six and eight ("The Clash" and "The Kids Are Right") might on the surface, suggest references to the Clash and the Who, but are very personal observations on (a) who the band is and (b) that 'younger' generation.
"Demonic Side", "Painkiller" and "Heaven 2.9" all seem a marked departure for the band, as they experiment with different sounds and subject matter lyric wise and that strange thing 'roots-based' pop-rock best practiced previously by the surprising pair of Steve "Copperhead Road" Earle and Australia's Freeloaders.
"Painkiller" (one of my choice cuts on this ) in particular slows the pace and is a far more personal tune, than many other tracks on the album. According to the lyrics it would seem, written in memory of a friend or acquaintance, losing the fight with substance abuse.
With "Making Enemies is Good" the Backyard Babies have delivered another killer album with some fresh ideas, something which possibly considering some of the Hellacopters third and fourth studio LPs (and this might put some cats among those useless pigeons?!), might want to attempt in future forays into the studio. - Simon Li
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