Division of Laura Lee

Darren Ratner
Division of Laura Lee

Division of Laura Lee

City: Brooklyn, New York
Venue: Warsaw
Date: 2002-11-02
Smack dab in the middle of what appears to be a Swedish invasion, Gothenburg's Division of Laura Lee insist that no, they are not the Hives. There are no matching outfits, no Pelle Almqvist toting the jive of another Mick Jagger, and yes, their sound IS different. How different, you ask? In Greenpoint, Brooklyn (an area that seemed like a poster board for economic depravity) on November 2, DOLL graced the Warsaw Polish Home with songs that were strong but not stampede-ish, simple but never sluggish. It was just a great mix of old-school Detroit rock (i.e. MC5, the Stooges), crunchy punk tunes and ants-in-the-pants joviality. That Saturday night was also a chance to hobnob with Brooklyn's array of individuals, ranging from the artsy fartsy to punky punksters. At 8:00 p.m. the line outside Warsaw's dingy brick wall had begun to intensify. Interns/street teams for Epitaph handed out complimentary CDs, 20-somethings buzzed about with cigarettes dangling from their lips, and the bouncers seemed professional and collected. Warsaw -- normally a gathering spot for Brooklyn's Polish residents -- had become part of CMJ's yearly festival, with other concerts in legendary venues such as CBGB's. This lineup was particularly appealing, consisting of Sunshine, Ikara Colt, the Dillinger Escape Plan and headliner the International Noise Conspiracy. DOLL was third on the bill. By the time I walked through the door, Sunshine was well into their set. Earplugs were quickly inserted and the drinks close at hand. But it was painfully obvious that the heavy garage sounds of the first two groups -- Sunshine and Ikara Colt -- made for ho-hum listening. The then-scanty crowd seemed to find more pleasure in buying t-shirts, scarfing Polish vittles and getting a bit tipsy. DOLL finally took the stage at 10 p.m. By then, the ballroom crowd was growing and they seemed pleased with the band's retro-rock sensibility. Lead vocalist/guitarist Per Stalberg dipped and dived through the whole show. He, along with other members such as Jonas Gustavsson (bass) and David Ojala (guitar), showed similar enthusiasm through songs like the rockin' "We've Been Planning This for Years", and the anthem-like "Trapped In", with rainbow lights illuminating their presence. Stalberg even tried to get the crowd themselves moving, gently pushing the fans to "dance for us a bit." Most people stood there motionless amongst these titillating tunes, though, turning out to be one of the night's few, if only, low points. Were these folks too cool to get into the music? Nothing sucks worse than going to a show and inhaling the stench of introverted fans. Nevertheless, the group continued through most of their second LP Black City, belting out the partyish "Second Rule" and debut single "Need to Get Some". They even decided to play a few new songs not found on the album. But nothing induced goose bumps more than the short-lived drum solo by Hakan Johansson. It was the conclusion of their final song, "Wild and Crazy", and each member departed the stage in 30-second intervals. This eventually left Johansson alone, and the audience to experience some ultra-catchy rhythm. During my walk to the subway, there were no qualms that DOLL came off as the next soldier in the Swedish armada. Tired of being compared to those increasingly swarming Hives, DOLL acted as their own entity, and came away with a certain force that was more present in their music than bodies. Maybe this insurgence of nostalgic rock will fade out as quickly as that whole swing revival thing. Whether it does or not, Division of Laura Lee should certainly be remembered.

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.