YOU MOVE - The Chronics (Bad Afro)
I don't know much about Umea in far northern Sweden (said to be a home to most of the country's hardcore bands) but I'm betting there's not much more to do there in the colder months than alter the consciouness with whatever's close to hand and listen to 60s punk and soul records. The Chronics obviously do so, and wear the badge with pride.
We've been listening to a lot of similar stuff here in the Bar lately (the Dirtbombs and Now Time Delegation for two) so this is a timely addition to the playlist. This is also the second album for these guys (2000's "Soulshaker" was on the same very happening label) and I have to admit to being impressed.
First and foremost, The Chronics are a garage-soul band with an outstanding engine room. That's the difference between them and a host of other more-lauded bands coming out of that part of Europe - these guys recognise the value of a feel and go with it. Vocalist Magnus Rudolfson is a blues shouter, Leif Jakobsson lays down the required bed of fat fuzz guitar (with adequate restraint when called for - try "Honey Blue" for evidence), but The Chronics would be just another Scandi garage band without (let's give 'em a mention) two guys called Mats Westin on drums and Micke Ogren on bass. They're subtle when they have to be and they can rock out, but the bottom line is they have a sense of groove and lock into it.
That's not to play down Jakobsson's roaring, warm guitarwork; it dominates (a definite plus) - but this is to stress that the disc is by no means a flat-out-and-fucked rocker. Pop hooks are in evidence amongst the six-string carnage (in "Feel Alright", "Make You Move" and "Soulshaker".) Liberal use of uncredited organ and female backing vocals lend dashes of welcome colour. "Rub Off" is Stoogesque in its application of Rock Action principles (ie. lay down a strong backbeat and spray guitar all over it) while "Rewind" is pure Stones bump 'n' grind.
The whole album is nicely paced, if mastered too low and with Rudolfsson's Jagger-influenced vocals buried. The 11 tracks clock in at just over 30 minutes - but don't let that deter you if any of the above sounds interesting. Play it loud and it will make you move. - The Barman
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