IN PURE SPITE - The Maharajahs (Low Impact Records)
Here's the simple equatiuon: Two Maggots + One Stroller = Garage Band Excellence.
These guys have been around in various configurations since 1999. Since formation, the lineage has been reduced to one Maggot (guitarist/organist Jen Lindberg) but ex-Strollers vocalist Mathias Lija is still on-board, backed by a different engine room. I haven't heard all their output but if they've recorded a stinker, it's yet to come to attention.
The Maharajahs mine well-prospected ground but still manage to come up with nuggets like "Repo Man" (not the Iggy gem) and "Not a New Sensation". It's '60s-ish in a way much great music with powerful hooks and fuzzy guitar lines is, but it's fresh and immediate sounding. Think of The Maharajahs as a Swedish version of The Fleshtones. This is Album Number Four for The Maharajahs so they still have a way to go to match the 'Tones, but you get the drift.
One good thing about '60s-styled bands is that almost no song tops three-minutes in length. If you don't like one cut, it's like waiting for a London bus (there'll be another along any minute.) Brevity gives you 14 songs on this long-player.
I could prattle on an describe each song and its identifiable influences but that'll bore you silly if you haven't heard the tunes. Plus, as this is a Swedish band it would be more fun making up bad puns about Volvo cars, Bjorn Borg and ABBA.
Let's just say the influences are all the classics and the infectious "Yeah Yeah" sounds like The Easybeats. Compliments to the guitarists too (presuming Lilja and Linderg share the duties, they reverb it out a treat on the reflective ballad "Alaska Beach".)
There's no firm evidence but I have a feeling the latest wave of '60s garage stuff is wearing out its welcome with some people. If you're one of them, take a punt on The Maharajahs. Your faith just might be renewed. - The Barman
A THIRD OPINION - The Maharajahs (Low Impact Records)
From one perspective The Maharajahs could illustrate the cross-cultural power of rock’n’roll: a Swedish band playing San Francisco style flower flavoured '60s garage rock with a title borrowed from the royal nomenclature of the sub-continent. If we could only find a Middle-Eastern angle to chuck into the mix – preferably an angle that doesn’t attract extreme political controversy – and get the band to play in Australia, it’d be almost perfect.
I still don’t quite ‘get’ why Scandi bands tend to be both so enamoured with the garage-psych sound, and do damn good at replicating it in a contemporary context. Yet it’s not something worth dwelling on too much – the point is to enjoy it when you’ve got the opportunity. The Maharajahs exhibit that dreamy garage quality that reminds you why 60s idealism was so sonically attractive – even when society was actually falling apart at the seams, not being bonded by a enlightened sense of human and community as the leftie ideologues of the time would have had us believe, there was a great soundtrack that made you think that things were actually better than they’d ever be before.
But back to the Maharajahs’ music. There’s a lot of the San Fran summer of love in here – Grateful Dead with a diluted blues factor, Great Society and Jefferson Airplane, all those here today, gone tomorrow, 60s bands who appear on various Nuggets and Pebbles compilations (and the members of which are either dead or holding down respectable, but mundane, desk jobs in innocuous US cities).
“A Third Opinion” is the band’s third major offering – hence the name of the album, I suspect – and sees the band continuing with the same line-up that played on its previous album “Unrelated Statements”. “I’m Cracking Up” opens the album perfectly – a tale of love, possibly unrequited that’s Stems-like in its celebration of the best of the late 1960s, a flourishing keyboard track that comes in and out of focus like ink dots splashing and receding on a celluloid projection. “Don’t Wanna Lose You” rests on a opening guitar riff that chops methodically like my brother in the kitchen when he’s had three beers and a spliff.
Both “Misty Night” and “Flying” are closer to the true (?) psych experience, a dreamy two minutes that brings to mind bowl cuts, Roger McGuinn’s groovy glasses and beehive adorned chicks moving effortlessly to the music. In stark contrast “Ethanol Rock II” – is a rollicking trip in an open car with a dirty scuzz guitar playing the part of a hotted up Chevy engine. “A Hole in My Head” is more late 50s skiffle than psych, Lonnie Donnegan with a heavy shot of garage adrenaline and a frenzy of drumming and a barrage of wailing feedback that’s in your face and your ears without ever outstaying its welcome.
“Time” laments the finite temporal space occupied by the band, but the level of confidence and relaxation demonstrated in the song suggests no-one’s panicking quite yet. “Since You’ve Been Away” is infected with a river of fuzz that leaves a lasting impression like a 90% proof single malt Scotch, while “My Other Face” is possibly a great tune in search of a bit of internal consistency. “A Girl Instead of Me” might possibly be the band’s answer to Weezer’s “Pink Triangle” in its reference to girl love as the institutional impediment to the narrator’s lustful thoughts. “Sunday Girl” returns to the misty eyed world of the psych-era Byrds (and has no obvious relationship to the Blondie tune of the same name). “The Invisible Man” stomps and stamps with a viral intensity and a set of guitar breaks to chop out the simplistic garage licks. Rounding out the album “Night Has Come Again” is a laid back, emotive garage ballad lamenting the emotional solitude brought upon the departure of the narrator’s special girl.
In some respects The Maharajahs are just another 60s garage rock from Sweden – nothing new there. But consistency is always a virtue. If a third opinion was ever needed, this album confirms what should be obvious to us all – The Maharajahs carry the flag for the best of contemporary 60s garage rocK. - Patrick Emery
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