The Line Of Best Fit Radio

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Review: Blackstrap - Steal My Horses And Run



I swear they must be putting something in the water in Sweden. Sure, the past decade has seen the country produce a number of successful indie bands - The Cardigans, The Wannadies & The Hives being the most successful internationally - but never has there been a rush like this.

Last year saw a load of fabulous Swedish indie pop releases from I'm From Barcelona, Jens Lekman, Surburban Kids With Biblical Names, Loney, Dear and Peter, Bjorn & John to name just a handful. All these albums were greeted with vast critical acclaim with Pitchfork scoring the Jens Lekman album "Oh You're So Silent Jens" a whopping 8.5/10 and Bella Union label boss Simon Raymonde claiming Loney, Dear's "Sologne" to be "one of the most incredible albums i own, it will seriously make your life better". An album that slipped under the radar though was "Steal My Horses And Run" the sophomore album from Stockholm 4-piece Blackstrap. Released at the tail end of 2006 to rave reviews in Sweden, Germany & Holland and receiving a fair amount of radio play on US indie stations, it has pretty much gone unnoticed here in the UK.

Lets hope that will change soon because this is an album to fall in love with, to cherish and to tell all you're friends about. The easiest way to describe the sound of these guys is to mention their influences; Jesus & Mary Chain, Spiritualized, Joy Division & Primal Scream. Its blissfully fucked up rock n roll drenched in fuzzed out guitars and atmospheric shared lead vocals from Jonatan Westh and Maria Lindén.

The opener "Winning Speech" sounds like a harder, better, faster, stronger version of "Medication" from Primal Scream's Vanishing Point. Its a perfect blueprint for whats to follow, and just as the final chord rings out you're smacked around the face with the juggernaut of a track that is "Rough Parade", an obvious choice for a single and a sure fire hit at festivals this summer with its call and response boy girl vocal in the same vein as The Ravonettes but with a more poppy sheen to it. Things continue at full throttle with "Lay Down Low", this track has a great vocal by Westh, his Swedish drawl fits perfectly with the pounding rhythm section. Things slow down a little with "The Far Gone" and "The Open Road", a real gem of a track, this would fit perfectly on the Lost In Translation soundtrack, a hypnotic drone of guitars and vocals which leads onto possibly the strongest moment "The Bitter, The Sweet", even though it draws comparisons to early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, it has more bite, more attitude. The only acoustic track on the album is the dark and brooding "Still Lost", swathes of background noise combined with acoustic guitar and a haunting vocal by Lindén lead the song, its not until a pounding floor tom draws the song to a close is in its final minute.

Weighing in at just under 50 minutes there really isn't a weak moment on these 13 songs. If you're a fan of the twisted rock n roll that The Duke Spirit or Howling Bells produce then I strongly urge you to check it out. An overlooked classic that hopefully will be heard by many more sets of ears this year.

The album will get a UK release later this year but for now you can buy the CD for €16 which works out at about £10 from youmakemusic.com

For more info on the band visit:

blackstrap.net [official site]
myspace.com/blackstrap001 [myspace]
sallyforth records [label]

Watch:
Blackstrap - Winning Speech & Lay Down Low


Listen:
Blackstrap - Rough Parade


Blackstrap - The Bitter, The Sweet

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