Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Stomachmouths ~ Born Losers (hits comp)


(No official website)
Style: garage rock, surf, instrumentals, retro, Swedish
Label: Subliminal Sounds/Kooks.org
Year: 2003
Home: Stockholm, Sweden (disbanded)

Members: Stefan Kery ~ vocals/guitar
Martin Skeppholm ~ drums
Lars Kjellen ~ guitar
Par Stavborg/Jens Lindberg ~ bass
Anna Nystrom ~ organ

I have mixed feelings on surf music. I'm not talking the Ventures but the modern surf bands that encompass the surf revival which mixed together traditional surf with a punk attitude & fast rhythms, with the not-so-distant cousins of the revivals of psychobilly, rockabilly & garage rock that all share the same visuals of 50's/60's cars, babes in bikinis monsters. I grew up in Bellingham, Washington, the home of famed surf label Estrus Records & the legendary Mono Men & thus was regularly hearing about many great surf bands, so I'll confess a bit of a nostalgic bias of high school days when I listen to the music again. Surf music is undoubtedly fun to play with its 3 chord chunky rhythms, fun to listen to with its careless straight ahead attitude, can get quite creative particularly when it includes soundtrack excerpts & sound effects ... but I always tire of it after awhile. The lyrics are shallow & basically built around one line, with few surf bands claiming great singing, while the music has a rather small range of heavy repetition the was set by the Ventures decades ago & stays faithfully within that framework. What makes it good is also what makes it bad. Those that do push to sound gimmick often often rely on some strong gimmick, such as Man Or Astro-man? which includes a line-up of robots & aliens or the rockabilly/garage rock Cramps with their sex & monster stomp approach, but such gimmicks often get over-used in a short time. In the 1980's Sweden's Stomachmouths brought together the best of surf from the tongue-in-cheek singing of straight-ahead unpoetic lyrics, the punk attitude, the speed, some variety of textures that range from straight surf to more organ-driven garage rock & of course songs under 3 minutes. Like their peers the repetition is heavy & the reverb cranked. With 25 tracks it might appear to be at first a tedious listen to a non-surf/revival fan but its everything but. There's bands that are wilder, more popular, more talented, more creative & definetly more gimmicky but the Stomachmouths have gone across the revival spectrum & put together a collection that holds up a lot better than a lot of their peers. In many ways Born Losers could be a historical overview of the revival scene as not a style of music is missing & everything is executed to perfection. You'll find here hardcore surf alongside hardcore rockabilly. There's no feeling of 'maybe we'll try a surf song now' & see what happens. The execution is always spot on. This album would be my first recommendation to someone who wanted to be introduced to the revival movement. The irony is that this comes from a European band that has no surf or rockabilly history. Greatest hits albums aren't always the best introduction to a band this one couldn't be better, though sadly with a catalog of but few records Born Losers provides a listener with the essential Stomachmouths & only a collector would feel driven to pursue the original individual albums which are hard to find as it is. This compilation includes remastered takes on the original 80's masters oversaw by frontman Stefan Kery a decade after the band's break-up with the improved technology giving a much rawer sound to the music that was missing in the original releases.




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