March holds a lot of promise for those who have long since eloped with the mistress called rock. Three anticipated records are in the air: El Caco’s latest effort from the welding seams of rock and metal is entitled "From Dirt." Washington, those lone rangers who ride by the northern light, will give us their "Astral Sky." And last but not least, that most quintessential blues-rock power-trio this country has ever fostered, Bigbang, are back with their seventh: "Too much Yang."
From the far north of Norway comes the warmest sounding, most velvety and deeply coloured music; the trio Washington play rock that seems almost consecrated. Their songs are slow flowing like a river deep, and intensely beautiful and moving. Their debut “A new order rising” from 2004 raised a lot of brows for its unmistakable quality and the sheer youthful talent of the band and headman Rune Simonsen. Thus this year’s follow-up has been eagerly awaited, and upon its release last week it became clear that the band have moved on and broken new ground whilst still retaining that special intensity of their expression. Astral Sky is a fitting title indeed, for these are songs that look to the horizon and to the firmament.
El Caco is a band that is like an unbroken train of thought: every outing and every performance has proved a step forward in a certain and rational build up to a level of brutal excellence. Their blend of rock and metal is highly demanding in terms of performance, and when the musicality is as great as with these guys it becomes a combustible and extremely forceful expression. It comes across as a compact vehicle which many want to hitch a ride with. From Dirt is their fourth album, and it might well be the release that crowns their efforts and rockets them to the highest realm of metal bands.
Too much Yang; the title says a lot about Bigbang, a band that manages like few others to merge classical blues, rock and folk with fresh perspectives and an acute kind of awareness. Bigbang, and it must be said, it is one man’s vision, have the kind of side-gazing and forward- looking appeal that bands used to have when rock was the medium of young exiting minds. That property of transcending (and mocking) the lame self-referential dullness of so many rock musicians of today is the great force of Bigbang and its chieftain Øystein Greni. He manages to make his love for seventies’ music a funnel for a fresh and exiting positivistic enterprise: there is a lust, a sense of anticipation, and not least of original thinking present in his songs. -Smiling acuteness where most rock bands are going the opposite way towards form without any content and thus a formalistic obsession and reference craze.
Too much Yang invites us on a much more exciting journey; it’s Tintin on a horse called Google, bringing swirls of beautiful melodies and a flurry of energy -the essence of the great genre of rock- forward with a citric smile.