HOW DOES IT feel/ For once in your life/ To be the one for whom nothing works?/ Now it appears/ You want my advice/ 'Cuz you know I'm used to being jerked..." So sneers Bell songwriter/guitarist Vanessa Veselka at the start of "Unshockable," setting the stage for the big payback. Attitude to go: think the Stones' vitriol-filled "The Last Time" filtered through Patti Smith's punk goddess self-righteousness. Even better, this pus-popping, 10 song album of barely restrained rage -- a dark chronicle of love's seamier, brutal side -- is as musically hotwired as the first Stooges record, its rhythmic throb 'n' groan the primitive sound of sex across the hood of a jalopy, its buzzing, whining guitars the accompanying grunts and moans of pain and pleasure. Every song on this diverse third Bell record delivers: the frantic electrical sparking of "12:48" contrasts with the almost Pere Ubu-esque avant drone of "Hostages," while the post-anthemic desolation of "Annihilated" is the perfect set-closer that'll have audiences singing along even as they slam beer bottles against their own heads.
Worth noting is that Bell has made Tucson a regular stop on its touring agenda whenever it decides to get out of the rainy Northwest. With a growing fanbase here, why not turn the Old Pueblo sojourn into a permanent relocation? This band, methinks, could shake up the local scene. -- Fred Mills
SWEDISH GARAGE MONSTERS the Nomads have been unceremoniously kicking around this scummy planet for nearly two decades. And after dozens of exciting retro-punk releases, they haven't compromised their trash-filled brand of rock-heavy six-oh garage scorch one fuckin' bit. File this mammoth slab of unpretentious, hook-filled garage raunch next to the likes of the Cramps, Lime Spiders, Sonics, DMZ, New York Dolls and the Gun Club. It's trend-setting company to be associated with and a deserved, well-earned badge of honor for the Nomads. What makes the group endure after numerous personnel changes, grueling tour schedules and virtually undetectable sales figures is vocalist/front man Nick Vahlberg and long-time guitarist Hans Ostlund, who channel an unyielding rock-and-roll spirit and a love for playing psychotic '60s-inspired punk music together. Singing in English, Vahlberg's rough American-sounding baritone, his teenage hoodlum lyrics and adroit choice of cover material has managed to make the Nomads sound as refreshing and urgent as they did back in 1981.
The Nomads have always gleefully plundered various mid-'60s punk vaults and Big Sound 2000 is no exception. Rather than imitating the Nuggets-era originals, this Stockholm quartet fuses a primal vision of that musical era with cauterizing guitars, high-decibel Marshall amps and Vahlberg's hardy singing. The ultra-obscure Pebbles-era cover of "Ain't Yet Dead" sets the maniacal tone that follows, including the swashbuckling Dolls-like trash-punk of "Going Down Slow," the pills and cheap hooch paranoia of "The King Of Night Train" and the high-velocity Scientists-meet-Panther Burns swamp gumbo of "Don't Pull My Strings." The Nomads have set the standard by which all other contemporary nostalgic garage-heads should be compared. -- Ron Bally