Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Flaming Sideburns - Hallelujah Rock 'N' Rollah - 2001

Released in 2001, Hallelujah Rock 'N' Rollah is the second full-length release by the Flaming Sideburns for Denmark's Bad Afro imprint. As the turn of the millennium revival of garage rock was brewing in Sweden, Finland's Flaming Sideburns were creating a buzz of their own thanks to their raucous, fun, and skintight rock & roll attack that blends the singsongy hip-shaking of the Rolling Stones with the roar of the MC5. The remarkable thing is that the Sideburns manage to avoid sounding overly derivative or stale -- which is clearly no small feat, as evidenced by the current influx of by-the-numbers garage rockers currently boring the jean jackets off of audiences around the world (and that includes Sweden, kids). In 2002, Hallelujah was released Stateside by Jet Set Records under the oh-so-modest title Save Rock 'N' Roll. While that album didn't spark the sort of fever the Hives' did, it certainly kept the flames burning. Although repackaging efforts like this aren't usually worthwhile, Save Rock 'N' Roll proves to be a rare exception as a few of Hallelujah's more lackluster numbers ("Underground Confusion," "Shake In," and "Testify") are traded out for full-on scorchers ("Lonesome Rain," "I'm in the Moon," and "Sweet Sounds of L.U.V.") making it a rock-solid record from start to finish. One of the keys to the Sideburns well-honed attack is that they pile on numbers that rock out, and just when the listener thinks the band is about to peak, they throw in a midtempo Stones/Velvet Underground slow burner like "Stripped Down" or "Flowers" that eases up the pace just long enough for them to regroup before rocking out once more. Brilliant. The Sideburns serve up red-hot guitar lines and slinky bass breaks so effortlessly that it allows frontman Eduardo "Speedo" Martinez to be the star of the show, with his swaggeringly confident vocals that exude the sort of playful cockiness that makes guys like Mick Jagger great. Even the Argentinean howler's occasionally awkward turns of a phrase sound cool with his rolling accent (see "World Domination" for head-scratching lines like "On top of an iceberg/Got no medication/You want medicine?/That's out of the question"). Although they never had a hit in the U.S., they did garner a bit of airplay in the form of a car commercial. A snippet of "Street Survivor" was used in a 2002 Toyota Camry ad campaign. Somewhere, a young marketing intern is probably giggling with self-satisfaction at this unlikely feat. -AMG


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