Music review, Soundtrack of Our Lives at the Double Door

Mick JaggerRock and Roll (genre)Mick TaylorUnion Carbide Corp.Keith RichardsThe Rolling Stones (music group)

Sweden, the land that irony forgot, is giving rock disciples new reasons to believe. In recent months, the Hives and the Hellacopters have barnstormed through town with high-voltage shows. Monday, it was the Soundtrack of Our Lives' turn at the Double Door, and the sextet may be the best of the Scandinavian invaders.

These Swedish garage bands aren't doing anything new, but they are doing it right. In a land with a smaller population than New York City and a self-supporting scene of rock 'n' roll nomads steeped in the glories of the MC5, "Aftermath"-era Rolling Stones and Roky Erickson's 13th Floor Elevators, the members of Soundtrack of Our Lives are elder statesmen of sorts (singer Ebbot Lundberg's previous band, Union Carbide Productions, toured North America in the early '90s). The Soundtracks put out three albums in Europe before Champaign-based Parasol Records licensed the discs for distribution in the United States last fall, and they're a revelation: a lysergic blend of spine-tingling riffs, resonant singing and anthemic melody.

In a brief set last spring at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, the Soundtracks cranked up its retro rock with joyous zeal, Lundberg moving through the crowd like a Scandinavian messiah with his white tunic and bushy beard. The singer was an equally commanding presence Monday, orchestrating the crescendos in the music with arms spread condor-like overhead, and wading through the packed-in audience like he owned the place — which, on this night, he did.

At a time when American mainstream rock is soaking in the juices of self-loathing, the Soundtracks and their Swedish brethren proffer transcendence. The twin-guitar leads of Ian Person and Mattias Barjed channeled Mick Taylor and Keith Richards on "21st Century Rip Off," then one-upped the Stones' "Time Waits for No One" with chorus after surging chorus on "Nevermore," pushing the song far past the parameters of the recorded version. The guitarists brought lyricism to everything they played, counterpoint lines spiraling higher until everyone in the room was either playing an air-guitar solo, waving a lighter or ordering another round. In the retro sweepstakes of recent years no band — with the possible exception of Dayton, Ohio's venerable Guided By Voices — has evoked the stoned-cool sprawl, the timeless possibility of early-'70s guitar rock with greater consistency.

Like GBV, the Soundtracks don't see the past as a dead-end or as a nostalgic burial ground. Instead, they unearth the best of it, recombine the essentials in fresh ways and inject them with an ardor that can't be faked. Rather than mimic a blues singer, ala Mick Jagger, Lundberg stood strong at the center of the guitar maelstrom with a plush crooner's baritone that evoked Jim Morrison. Martin Hederos coated the guitar epics in "Nuggets"-era organ drones, and drummer Fredrik Sandsten played with unusual sensitivity, shooting cross-currents of rhythm rippling across the arrangements.

With its hazy psychedelic vibe, this was music that cried out for a dry-ice machine, and the Soundtracks complied. But the band didn't need gimmicks to connect. "We're taking over, might as well blow you away," Lundberg brayed, and on this night he not only meant every word, he and his band delivered.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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