The Flaming Sideburns: The Flaming Sideburns Save Rock 'N' Roll

Adrien Begrand

The Flaming Sideburns

The Flaming Sideburns Save Rock 'N' Roll

Label: Jetset
US Release Date: 2002-10-22
UK Release Date: Available as import

This late into 2002, you'd think the ever-growing number of Scandinavian rock bands that have been heavily hyped Stateside has reached its saturation point. However, there's one more great little band Jetset Records wants you to get acquainted with. According to members of bands like the Hives, the Hellacopters, and the Soundtrack of Our Lives, the Flaming Sideburns are a band that totally deserves any attention they can muster over here, and like the best of what that part of the world has to offer, they fully intend to rock your friggin' world, and nothing more.

It's probably safe to assume that the Flaming Sideburns are unlike any other band in the world today: what other Finnish rock band fronted by an Argentinean singer who sings in both English and Spanish is there? And where the Hives have the Stones-style stage presence down, the Soundtrack of Our Lives delve into '60s psychedelia, and Sahara Hotnights do a cool Swedish version of the Runaways, the Flaming Sideburns want to be like the Stooges, very badly. High octane, ferocious, meat-and-potatoes rock 'n' roll is what these boys deliver, and like New York's Mooney Suzuki, they pepper their '60s garage sound with small helpings of '60s soul. And if that's not enough, they have bandmembers with names such as "The Punisher" and "Johnny Volume". I mean, what's not to like about that?

But what about that new album of theirs? Their North American debut, The Flaming Sideburns Save Rock 'N' Roll, contrary to what we might think over here, is far from their first release. With a couple of albums and a wealth of single releases already under their belts, the band are hardly newcomers, and you can hear it on this album. Opening with singer Eduardo Martinez mimicking a Spanish soccer broadcast (complete with "GOOOOOOLLL!"), "Loose My Soul" is a perfect party tune, with Martinez in full Iggy mode. Quality rockers abound on the album, as "Blow the Roof" (with Spanish verses and an English chorus), "World Domination" (which sounds lifted from AC/DC's Let There Be Rock album), "Street Survivor", and especially the raucous "Spanish Blood", threaten to push the limits of your speakers. And that's all well and good; everybody needs to rock out every once in a while, and these guys do a great job, but there's one song on the album so different, so perfect, that you wind just stop what you're doing, and think, in amazement, "Now what the heck was that?"

"Flowers" is one of those songs you live for as a fan of rock 'n' roll, a from-out-of-nowhere, miraculous moon-shot that make you think, "why can't they sound like this on the entire record?" For three glorious, but tragically short, minutes, the Flaming Sideburns stop imitating the Stooges and dip into Lou Reed territory, making the song sound perfectly like an outtake straight from the Velvet Underground's Loaded sessions. With an absurdly simple three chord progression, overdubbed layers of lush, wispy-light solo harmonies throughout (much like "Sweet Jane"), "Flowers" is one of those lazy, dreamy, gorgeous songs that the Velvets specialized in late in the band's brief history. Martinez, meanwhile, totally nails the Lou Reed-circa 1969 voice; when he sings "New York City / You're my kind of town," he is Lou Reed. The similarity is impeccable, and this knockout tune is one of the best songs this reviewer has heard all year.

A handful of songs also veer away from the Stooges formula a bit, like the Stax-era, Mooney Suzuki-sound of "Sweet Sound of L.U.V.", "Stripped Down" (the closest thing to a ballad), and desolate, Ventures-sound of "Lonesome Rain", but as good as they are, they don't come close to matching "Flowers". If The Flaming Sideburns Save Rock 'N' Roll didn't contain that incredible fourth track, you'd think the Flaming Sideburns were nothing more than a good, honest, straightforward, testosterone band, but "Flowers" changes everything. Is the song a total fluke, or are they capable of more magic? The album is a fine, fine effort, but is ultimately undermined by the promise that "Flowers" hints at, and one can't help but think that the rest of the album should have been as great. For now, though, we'll have to settle for a good album instead of a great one. The Flaming Sideburns might not have completely succeeded in saving rock music, but like their fellow Scandinavian brethren (and sisters), at least they're trying, which is more than I can say for most North American bands out there.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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

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