Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Launderettes: Fluff 'n' Fold

The Launderettes

Fluff 'n' Fold
Wicked Cool Record Co.

Less than a handful of things come to mind when you think about Norway. Maybe three things: Fjords, Vikings, and Turbonegro. Oh, and it's damn cold. That's really it. The fjord is easy; it's a long, steep, narrow inland bay caused by a glacier moving inland towards the sea. For many of you who had their education in the US and thus, know very little geography, you might recognize the word from a Pinky and the Brain episode, and for those a little more enlightened, you might remember that Michael Palin told John Cleese that his dead Norwegian blue parrot was "pining in the fjords." The Vikings are better known: Ruthless pillagers who sailed, invaded and conquered wherever they went, but had the sense of humor to call a desolate place Greenland and a warmer place where people could actually live got named Iceland. Musically, there's Satanic death metal, church burnings, and cannibalism. There's also Turbonegro. For a description of them, go back to the Vikings description and take out "sailed." Like their ancestors, they also assault you and leave a wake of destruction wherever they go, leaving irrefutable evidence that Turbonegro has been here, especially to your ears. So Norway isn't known as being a rock and roll capitol, but what they have is so damn good that it sets some high expectations if anyone else from Norway wants to play rock and roll. The Launderettes, a quintet of Valkyry goddesses from Europe's Great White North, are following in the footsteps of their ancesters (see the description of Vikings) on their late 2007 release Fluff and Fold. Judging from this late introduction, get ready for the invasion.

The Launderettes don't play nice. They play loud and cool. Songs like "Bring Me Down" have guitarist Linda Kaastbakken playing a low, gutsy riff with a compliment of neat, spacey farfisa sweeps from organist Randa Nordenborg. One really can't deny an interest in a band that has the guts to take Stiv Bators' "I'm not looking for Romance, I just wanna get in your pants!" -either out of interest in what they do with it out of sheer offense that they would have the nerve to do it. The only similarity to the original ends there. "Jump your Bones" has cool surf guitar surf refrains and still has a good, trashy sound, but Ingvild Nordang's tugging at your shirt tone of sounding nice but more persuasive serves as an apt tribute. She then does a complete 180 degree turn into a sultry, smooth songstress on "Fading Out", which sounds like a hot dark night in California. The Launderettes are good enough to not break a sweat on the faster cover of The Isley Brothers frat rock classic "Nobody But Me," originally made famous when covered by The Human Beinz, but Cecilie Asker's drums pound louder and the tempo is a lot faster, turning into a song more for dancing that will leave your "frat boy" friend or relative finally sitting down to catch their breath after trying to dance to it at your next party. On that advice alone, it's recommended. Like any good garage rock band, it's almost a requirement to have a party anthem. Finally, there's one for the women! "What Would Joan Jett Do?" will have the girls "screaming out loud till you shake the ground" and have the guys singing along too.

This release from Wicked Cool is a "best of" compilation of their first two albums and an EP, so it covers different musical ground from basic powerpop, garage punk, and surf all in the same release. That's a good thing considering that most of their earlier material is hard to find or out of print. This is garage based rock 'n' roll. It uses the formulas, but when a band can keep it simple and add enough of themselves into it to make it their own, it's completely original. The production allows each band member to show how good they are without anyone taking lead, and one can tell from the recordings that The Launderettes play better than others, which gives the songs a feel of more renown, veteran garage rock bands.

Fluff 'n' Fold is a great introduction done by people who know their rock and roll, play their instruments loud but better than most, and do some pretty damn fun but crafty songs. This is great music that's "Fluffed 'n' Folded" into something new and "rock 'n' roll fresh!"

Take Me to the Race

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