Wants to Get Your Sister Pregnant
Proper, hard-edged rock and roll is a rare commodity to come by these days. American tastes have taken a hard turn towards the electronic. Samplers, drum machines and VST synthesizers have usurped guitar, bass and drums. When an analog band does make it big, you either end up with a twee post-rock sound or someone trying to create a roots music pastiche. In the past, when American pop music has lost its way, we’ve been able to look overseas, most often to the UK, for rock and roll salvation. Without a doubt, the British Invasion, British Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal steered domestic rock and roll out of mediocrity. Now, with Old Man’s Will’s new record Hard Times – Troubled Man, it looks like Sweden is making a play to help us remember how to rock.
It’s easy to think of Swedish bands in terms of extremes. On the one end, you have bubble-gummy dance pop, the likes of ABBA or Ace of Base or (God help us) the Swedish House Mafia. On the other end, you have the black clad Swedish Death Metal shredders like Entombed, Merciless or God Macabre. It’s easy to forget Sweden has its own hard rock tradition (see the Hellacopters).
Hard Times – Troubled Man is a no holds barred rock and roll record. It’s bluesy; it’s grimey; it’s hard. There’s guitar work reminiscent of Jimmy Page, drum work that stinks of Keith Moon, and vocal work straight out of 1972. This band isn’t aping the giants of the past, going for a throwback sound, so much as they are picking up where the greats left off and blazing new trail.
It’s hard to pick a top track off of this album because it’s all incredibly good and incredibly strong. However, if you want to bookend the band’s musical range, contrast “Fools,” the record’s opener which hits like an F5 tornado, and “Hazel Eyes,” which is a laid back raunchy groove. “Another Seven Days,” the closer, is a departure from the rest of tracks on this record, a down tempo mournful track with soaring whiskey-soaked vocals and a guitar solo that reminds one of early Funkadelic.
This record isn’t ironic in its references, it’s not overly considered or pretentious. It’s just damn good rock and roll.