A demo cd by a Swedish band called The Savages arrived at the Half A Cow Records office late last year. Once it was put in the cd player, it was never taken out - and, hearts pounding with the fear that another label had already snapped 'em up, Half A Cow contacted the band and offered to release their demo. The Savages were very excited as this was the first response they'd had from a record label (Half A Cow thanks record labels world-wide for not listening to unsolicited demos!), let alone one all the way from Australia.
They decided to deliver up a whole batch of new recordings to be their debut mini-album. The band wanted their songs to have a rawer sound, and Daniel, the singer, planned to aim for nothing less than "Roger Daltrey's rock vocalist throne". The Long Live You sessions, taking place at the legendary Polarjungle and fuelled by lots of humour and several exciting gigs in between, fulfilled everyone's expectations - "We recorded Who On The Bayou once again and this time we think we really captured it. Higher percussion instead of drums and very airy Stones oohs on the chorus makes it sound closer to water than ever!"
The Savages, from Fagersta, pop.12,000, have been together since 1997. They are Mats Larsson on drums, Magnus 'Bass with Brains' Sjolind on bass, Fredrik Andersson and Magnus Osterberg on guitars, and Daniel Haeggstroem on vocals.
The redoubtable Half a Cow label has made a name for itself with a roster of quirky slacker-pop, chick rock and indispensable retrospectives (the Missing Links, and The Eastern Dark being the most prominent). Owner Nic Dalton shows there's another string to the bow with this mini-album of ear-pummelling Scandi guitar skronk.
How this Swedish four-piece managed to be on Half a Cow is a story in itself: Band sends a demo - cold - to label honcho. Honcho can't get the little silver disc out of his player, goes apeshit and signs the band before anyone else can get their mitts on 'em. A little more studio work ensues and this monster of a disc is unleashed. (Of course, the fairytale would only be complete if this became a world-altering hit of Nirvana proportions - but you can play a small but important part in that happening by parting with your hard-earned, dear Bar patron.)
Union Carbide Productions are writ large here. So are the Stooges ('natch, when you mention UCP), Beggars Banquet-era Stones and the MC5 which makes for a heady mix. The other combo to spring to mind, at least on the first listen or three,was Mother Superior (the Swedish band, not the L.A. guys of Rollins/Wayne Kramer fame.) If they're not enough reference points, make up your own after you hear it - because hear it you must.
Guitarists Fredrik Andersson and Magnus Osterberg - real surname or what? YOU decide! - really carve a swathe, but it's Daniel Haeggstroem's yowling vocals that give The Savages their distinctive quality. The engine room swings too (not always the case with bands playing this stuff, and a good rhythm section is a Killer App for mine.)
Winning cuts? All of 'em, although "Who On The Bayou" 's speed-crazed growl and the edgy fury of "Heatache" leap out of the speakers just a little more determinedly than the others. Did I mention "Heatache" should have been on the Funhouse box set? I just did. - The Barman, I-94 BAR **** stars