It's been 15 years since I first laid ears on Sweden's Dee Rangers via their mighty "Pretty Ugly Beat" album, so smear me with a bowl of IKEA meatballs and mashed potato for thinking they'd broken up. Au contraire, to mix European languages in an almost Brexit world, they are very muich alive and kicking.
"All You Need Tonight" is album number seven for a band whose membership has stayed largely stable since they formed in the mid-'90s. You'll recognise their influences as soon as you hear their music. Firmly rooted in the '60s but blurring the stylistic boundaries between pop and garage, it's a potent distillation of what made Scandi music great for a very long time.
One definition of a convolution is “a twist”, and there are more of those in the history of Donovan’s Brain than Donald Trump’s Twitter stream.
Starting as a garage band in 1986 - playing Thunders and Stooges covers - the Brain has evolved into a shape-shifting, back woods psychedelic musical collective, with nine albums and 26 past or present members. “Convolutions” covers 1991-2017 and generously spans three discs. That’s 49 songs and a touch under four hours of music.
The only constant in the Donovan’s Brain story is Ron Sanchez, a musician, radio host, restauranteur and producer who relocated many years ago from the US West Coast to the bucolic and relatively remote location of Bozeman, Montana.
Fifteen years after it was recorded, this superb piece of Nomads ramalama sees the light of day as a split single with psychedelic collective Donovan’s Brain.
Recorded in Montana while they were sweeping through the nooks and crannies of North America, Sweden’s finest manage to lay waste to this rippling instrumental (written by studio owner and Brain ringmaster Ron Sanchez) like it was one of their own. This is desert driving music, simple as that. A big, fat fuzz bassline and tumbleweed guitars from the severely underrated pairing of Hans Ostlnd and Nick Vahlberg - supplemented by Sanchez and bandmate Richard Teece - make this something special.
Donovan’s Brain plays a whole different ball-game to the Nomads but the flipside keeps up the pyrotechnics levels. “Bread Man” is a Sanchez vocal-led heavy psych rocker fleshed out by Deniz Tek lead guitar. It’s over too soon. “Snow in Miami” eschews vocals and goes for a roughed up surf sound. It dates from 1998 with then-Brain guitarist Richard in place, adding some tasty skronk.
There are certainties in life. You've heard about death and taxes. There are also the Nomads. Dependable, although never safe, they're the grand daddies of Scandi Rock and their latest is a compilation to walk over shards of glass for.
Once upon a time, the mere mention of a new album by the Nomads would provoke howls of anticipation from anyone with the remotest appreciation for rock and roll. The praises of Sweden's Godfathers of Garage Rock were sung around the world - and justifiably.