Sunday, August 1, 2004

Punky Swedes inject humor into
their Ramones-like music

CD reviews

Tyrannosaurus Hives
Interscope; $13.98
3 Stars

Rock and roll is alive and well, and living in . . . Sweden?

It's true. The Hives are back again, staking their claim as the Scandinavian answer to the Ramones on their new CD, Tyrannosaurus Hives. Don't hold your breath waiting for lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist to break out the power ballads; instead, he yelps through a dozen three-chord songs in just over 30 minutes.

The band's twisted sense of humor - another trait they share with the Ramones - is evident in songs like "Abra Cadaver," "Walk Idiot Walk" and "See Through Head." Album opener "Abra Cadaver" is a rock 'n' roll version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers - except it's not aliens taking over.

"I tell no lies, need no alibi, tried to stick an office worker inside of me," Almqvist shouts over the pounding beat created by his hilariously named bandmates: guitarists Nicholaus Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem, bassist Dr. Matt Destruction and drummer Chris Dangerous.

It's the first album from the punky quintet since they broke big in the United States two years ago with the single "Hate to Say I Told You So," and this CD is every bit as catchy and crunching as their breakthrough.

The Ramones never received their due before their early demise. The Hives deserve better; here's hoping they get it.

Larry McShane, The Associated Press

No Roots
Arista; $18.98
2-1/2 Stars

The decade-old dance act move into melodic territory with No Roots, abandoning all traces of train wreck trance or hard house. The 15-track CD is more like a 2-track CD, intentionally created as two epic songs. But this disc isn't a lemon. Buyers will get their money's worth because the lengthiness allows for thoughtful rising and falling action. Faithless leisurely launch on "I Want More," playfully peak at "Miss U Less, See U More," and slowly sink during the title track.

With every song in the key of "C" and invisible pauses between each track, No Roots is best listened to in its entirety. "Swingers," fueled by a mysterious guitar riff reminiscent of electro-pop group Izdatsu, might stand alone, but its intro is too closely tied to the previous song.

DJ Sister Bliss and producer Rollo's lingering tempos steer the CD while vocalists LSK and Maxi Jazz's poetic lyrics are just along for the drive. "My TV barks at me from the corner," Jazz declares on "Bluegrass." The lyrics are too sporadic to be truly effective, which may be because Bliss and Rollo crafted the entire disc before playing it for LSK, Jazz and Dido, Rollo's sis and pop crooner who pops up on one track.

No Roots is an interesting although unsatisfying experiment in electronic music. It won't get the party started, but will make the trip much easier.

Derrik J. Lang, The Associated Press

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