The Sign

Dictator Ship Your Favorites CD

From the really unfortunate band name and the label where this Swedish band resides, I was expecting yet another HELLACOPTERS/GLUECIFER worshiping band of posers. The kind with the fringe suede vests and iron crosses tattooed on their respective cocks. Instead I was maybe sorta kinda pleasantly surprised to find that in lieu of the usual STOOGES and MOTÖRHEAD worship, these Swedes choose to take their cues from the likes of FREE and classic-era UFO. With a singer capable of doing the Paul Rogers or Phil Mogg thing and a band that can play those licks, they are punk only in the fact that the longest song barely cracks five minutes. Imagine that great ’70s hard rock record you hide behind your “Dis” band collection. Instead of long, sprawling jams with flute and tabla solos, every song is condensed to an easily digested format barely clocking in at 20 minutes total. Favorite tracks are “In the Heat of the Night,” “Just For Fun” and “Eat the Poor.” A lot of this is cliche and self-indulgent but still, it’s nice to hear some “rock” in MRR.

Lucifer Star Machine The Devil’s Breath CD

To paraphrase the ol’ cliche, you can’t judge a CD by its cover—front, in this case presumably of old Nick himself (I guess) breathing, nor back, with the band all wearing cutoff jean jackets to better show their full-sleeve and neck tattoos. Not sure what I was expecting at all. But it wasn’t this. The MACHINE displays an accomplished array of driving pop-rock, rock, punk, and some fantastic guitar solos. I deliberately avoided metal, or even metallic. Cranked-up rock’n’roll, for sure, Á  la SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS, plus the power pop/rock of a PAT BENATAR and THIN LIZZY. Definitely way more STRAW DOGS than SPEEDEALER, and majestic rock Á  la TURBONEGRO. Even the acoustic closer sounded pretty good. The singer has a fine set of pipes on him, and the guitar players know how to solo, with never a “squeal” or even a false harmonic. Just goes to show, I guess.

Snake Tongue No Escape – No Excuse EP

SNAKE TONGUE sounds much like they are named. The vocals are raspy and hissing, the music is lo-fi and powerful, and the guitars slither under aggressively punctuated percussion. The songwriting is nothing extremely avant-garde, but classic hardcore with moments of doom, mathcore, and thrash. It is as unexpected as a snake tongue, in fact. Four tracks of inspired rage.

The Drippers Action Rock LP

Well shit, it’s 1997 all over again and certain punkers are donning skintight denim and mirrored shades, feathering their hair and applying glitter selectively. The Scandi-death-glitter-punk sounds were coming fast and hard through labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry and Man’s Ruin, and San Francisco was dead center for the action. We’re talking BACKYARD BABIES, HELLACOPTERS, TURBONEGRO, and GLUECIFER, and now some 23 years later (it was really hard to do that math) we have the DRIPPERS picking up the torch.They even dug up the moldy glitter-ridden corpse of the guy who produced some of those classic records to mix this gem of a recording. Like all of the aforementioned bands (except for maybe TURBONEGRO), the weak spot is the vocals. I don’t know what it is, but the Scandis can rock like a mutha but the singers are icy and emotionless. The best cuts here for me are “Langgatan,” “White Light” and “Finskt Blod.” Now, like then, the influences are HANOI ROCKS, the STOOGES, MC5, MOTÖRHEAD and the ROLLING STONES. Hopefully this band rocks harder live than the disappointing shows witnessed by those other bands (except for TURBONEGRO) back in the day. Still, it’s a pretty smokin good time.