When you think Seattle of course you think Grunge or “Thrift Shop.” Time to change that! Time to get all pop-music catchy as hell. The key to the Swedish Finnish pop magic are hooks that earworm their way into your brain, making them instantly memorable. The glorious three-part harmonies soar through songs, guitars intertwine and the beat is steady. Delicious slices of sonic heaven.
Swedish Finnish proudly shouts their influences loud and clear – the chunky “Mine Is Better” channels T. Rex; “Don’t Do Anything (I Wouldn’t Do)” is like a long-lost Ronettes song (with the boys doing the singing). “Hungover” and “Marla’s House” recall their biggest heroes, The Beatles, while “I’m Leaving” takes the classic chord progression of Them’s “Gloria,” and puts it into a brand new context.
The Swedish Finnish Story starts with Tina and Rod. Rod has spent his entire life performing with many bands – The Fuzz, Swallow, Green Handshake, Runaway Trains, Spike, Deranged Diction, and more. During the couple’s 20+ years together, Tina attended nearly every show that Rod played, and in 2015, she decided she wanted to play drums. They began rehearsing in their basement, sorting through bits & pieces from Rod’s vast Archive of Unfinished Songs. Slowly things began to take shape.
One Tuesday, Andy Hoggarth, guitarist with Rod in The Fuzz, mentioned that he wanted to play bass. He also lived two blocks away, so that made things super easy. Then, last year, guitarist/singer Scott Sutherland (Llama, Model Rockets, Chemistry Set) moved in next door. Naturally, they asked him over to jam and presto, Swedish Finnish was born.
Their first eleven bites of pop confection have now been perfected for your delighted consumption. Let’s Go Rock!
Statement of purpose ‘Let’s Go Rock’ jumps out of the gate with a stomping little riff that’s part honkey tonk, part surf and 100% fun. There’s a C&W-inflected Rockpile vibe to ‘Don’t Do Anything (I Wouldn’t Do) that proves “It don’t mean a thang if it ain’t got that twang!” I hope Van Morrison has a sense of humour after hearing what they’ve done to ‘Gloria’ (cf., the garage shouter ‘I’m Leaving’); and we could all use a good cry now and then, and ‘My Baby Is Gone’ fills the bill quite nicely. As does ‘Rain Must Fall’, which reminded me of all the fun I had listening to Pete Stride and “Honest” John Plain’s Lurkers/Boys confab New Guitar In Town nearly 40 years ago! Sutherland brought a thing or three he picked up with the Longshots and dropped in all over the rabble-rousing guitar workout ‘Wasting Time’, and I also liked the T. Rex, boogie-woogie, gong-banging ‘Mine Is Better’.
Granted, Moody could’ve used a few more voice lessons, but his (and the band’s) hearts and heads are in it, and the bar band vibe will go down great with a few tallboys. If not, just listen to (the punny) ‘Hungover’ a few more times!
by Jeff Penczak