Solna - The Nomads (Devil's Jukebox/Career)
Once upon a time, the mere mention of a new album by the Nomads would provoke howls of anticipation from anyone with the remotest appreciation for rock and roll. The praises of Sweden's Godfathers of Garage Rock were sung around the world - and justifiably.
They kicked off as a derivative '60s influenced band in 1981 but became something entirely more substantial, paving the way for most of the Scandi Rock that followed. You like the Hellacopters? The Hives? Gluecifier? The Nomads did it first - and did it better.
When these guys racked up their 20th anniversary, half the world's rock royalty (Ross The Boss, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Jello, Saint Chris Bailey and Brother Wayne) turned up in Sweden to pay live homage.
Howl once again, if you haven't heard "Solna". It's the first studio LP from the Nomads in a dozen years. The news is it's top-shelf, five-star, 110 percent proof Real Rock and Roll. A stone classic.
Believe it when it's said that the Nomads in the early '90s were the epitome of power fused with melody. They played great songs imbued with energy and spirit. They still do.
The Nomads didn't break up this last decade. They just had other things (families, jobs) to occupy them. They lost nothing and if they're now weekend rock and roll warriors, who could tell. "Solna" is as sharp as anything in their back catalogue.
You want to know what's on it? You get an archetypical Nomads song in "You Won't Break My Heart" that can stand up and trade blows with anything they've recorded. In fact, "20,000 Miles" could be described the same way. Or the opening salvo "Miles Away". Or the bittersweet "The Bad Times Will Do Me Good".
There's a genuine fuzz stomp anthem in "Hangman's Walk". There's a similarly distorto singalong in "Up, Down Or Sideways" that's tough enough to stare down a pack of wolves at 10 paces. Hans Ostlund mightn't get mentioned in those feeble Rolling Stone Best Guitarist polls but try and tell me he doesn't rate with 'most anyone else around.
And the songs? Niklas Vahlberg sings 'em like they're his own but the secret weapons are bassist Bjorne Froberg and co-writer/producer Chips Kiesbye. Ostlund contributes a co-write and there's a Jack Oblivian cover. Of course, Kiesbye was behind the faders for this one, which was recorded in bits-and-pieces fashion in seven different places. It still sounds ace.
UPDATE: The best rock and roll album of 2012 just grew an extra leg. Career Records has issued "Solna" in a Loaded Deluxe Edition, which means two tracks (The Bells", "Trying Too Hard") have been dropped and three new ones added. All the newbies are winners so this means you need to buy both editions if you want to have a modicum of self respect.
"Don't Kill The Messenger" is an archetypal Nomads tune, a soaring, driving number with loads of guitar crunch and a he artful of melody. "Can't Go Back" steams along on the back of Hans Ostlund's masterful lead guitar counterpoint. The crib sheet says "The Way You Let Me Down" draws on Boddy Holly and Roky Erickson. I ain't arguing with that but respectfully submit the Nomads are entitled to honorary Texan citizenship on the strength of this one.
Career is doing this on vinyl for all you diehards. Sounds like you're running out of excuses if you're not already hip to one of the last great rock and roll bands the world has to offer. Scroll down to read the review proper and get clicking on the links to take the plunge with both labels.
Anyway, stop reading this review and find your own copy. Really, it's the only course of action from here. When you do, play it for five other people and make sure they buy their own. Hope burns eternal that we can keep rock and roll alive and drive a stake into the heart of people like Simon Cowell. If anyone can (on either count) it's the Nomads.
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