PUSHING SCANDINAVIAN ROCK TO THE MAN! Vol 3 - Various Artists (Bad Afro)
Scandi rock is all the rage at the moment, what with the success of bands like the Hives and the Hellacopters, but veteran observers (like NKVD Records/Noise for Heroes' Steve Gardner) have been pushing this barrow for years. Steve reckons this is the best sampler CD to pass his laser in years - and who are we to argue? If you're catching up on the Scandi scene and want a load of the fresh stuff, there are few better places to start.

What you have here is a mix of relatively older names (Flaming Sideburns, Thee Ultra Bimbos) stacked up alongside hot newbies (Sweatmaster, Royal Beat Conspiracy, Baby Woodrose) and a sprinkling of bands willing to explore left field (Vegas V.I.P.). It makes for an exciting ride.

"Nightrider" is a cool excursion into laid-back spaghetti western rockabilly, easy on the ears and fit for a Morricone soundtrack. "I Am a Demon and I Love Rock and Roll" is a cadge from a Roky Erickson lyric, but Sweatmaster do it proud the song that first attracted airplay from the BBC's John Peel. It'll rock your world too. (My mate Marko would like it known they're FINNISH, too, not Swedish).

"Never Coming Back" is a 7" single for Denmark's Baby Woodrose and they're a band that needs to be on your radar screen with a minimalist twin-guitar-and-drums sound that's bigger than you might expect. "Higher" is a soul stomp from On Trial, a band of Danish veterans (one of them in Baby Woodrose) who have supposedly been unnoticed until Bad Afro picked up on them. Can't work out why - this is a gem.

An unreleased track by The Chronics ("Slipping 'n' Sliding") missing from their album showcases their groove-laden rock well. "Leave Me Alone" is one of the slower-paced cuts from breakneck-speed-inclined Swedes The Maggots. Don't know how much of a calling these is for instrumental bands but The Mutants plough an unusual field with "Kung Fu". "Blow the Roof Away" is a second album tune from the Flaming Sideburns and fairly shows the more diverse direction they've moved in. You even get a portion of the lyrics sung in Finnish.

Ladies get a look in too. There's a bouncy cover of "Nobody That Me" by Dutch band the Laundrettes that holds up well despite not diverging far from the original. Thee Ultra Bimbos deliver the goods with with "No Man's No Good" from a deleted 7" (single, not man).

If you think we're impressed with the bands on Bad Afro, you're right. They nod to the past with an eye to the future. The majority of them drip soul, roughed up with a garage sensibility. Sounds good to me.
- The Barman