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Mainliners

In recent years, chaotic mid-'60s garage punk has been painstakingly unearthed and meticulously documented on such classic vinyl series as Nuggets, Pebbles and Back From the Grave. The simplicity and energy of these pimpled, mop-topped, juvenile delinquent-wannabes, spawned from their parents'-basement rehearsal spaces (pre-Summer of Love) found on these now treasured collections, has once again been resurrected by an influx of garage-minded offspring (spearheaded by self-proclaimed garage revival guru Little Steven), but only a few of these bands, including Sweden's Mainliners, have recaptured the full-bore, six-oh snarl, rhythmic intensity and devil-may-care attitude.

Mixing equal amounts '60s British R&B (Kinks, Them), '70s rock histrionics (Mott the Hoople, Max Webster) and '80s retro-garage enthusiasm (the Chesterfield Kings, Fuzztones), the Mainliners out-jive the carefully groomed Hives with more pop hooks and less punk hysterics, and adding less speed and more rhythmic divergence, thus enabling the dynamic quintet, led by tall, fiery singer Robert Billing, to modernize the garage-rock aesthetic without aping the originals or resembling clones birthed from the vivid and greedy imagination of a major label A&R hack.

On the steamrolling "Sinkin' Feeling," the Mainliners recall the neo-garage holler and swagger of '80s Swedish cavemen the Creeps and Wylde Mammoths while "Daughter of Dimes" and "Ordinary Night" revisits the R&B/blues stomping grounds embraced by the Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones. The furious, organ-tainted "Robber of Your Soul" is the album's standout track with an intense fuzz-saturated guitar break that would make the Chocolate Watchband proud, as Billing's growling vocals demand one to shake a tail feather like it's 1966 all over again.

More by Ron Bally

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