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Saturday, January 12, 2008

CD Review: Matadors - Flame the Whisper

Matadors - Flame the Whisper
2007 Devil Doll Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



One of the bands you're totally lame if you don't know of them is Sweden's Matadors. Not everyone has bought into the multifaceted directions that their fellow countrymen The Hives have taken on their dynamic The Black and White Album, and if you're in that category, then perhaps what you're craving is a little Matadors action...

Dubbed as "tangopunkrock," the Matadors grind out bare-knuckled garage rock with toothpicks and lime sections wedged between their teeth instead of lollipops. Say what you will about the propensity of today's garage underground to submerge itself in sugar cane pop fields more indicative of new wave instead of razor's edge rock; if you're feeling ostracized from it all, then charge the red capes the Matadors dangle in your face on their second full-length album Flame the Whisper and you'll unlikely be disappointed.

Even hipper than their debut album The Muse of Senor Ray, Flame the Whisper is poised and confident with its rubbernecked, exhaust-choked grimy sound that has as much hick coutre and stoner haze about it as it does able-bodied punk grooves and Spanish percussion. Treading as close to martini time as much as Miller Time on cuts like "New Wave Coke," "Down in the Dumps (Like Nobody Else)," "21st Century Monotony Disco" and the hilariously-titled "So You Judge Me From the Volume of My Band?" the Matadors bear an energetic lace of The Vibrators, Rocket From the Crypt, Fu Manchu and New Bomb Turks that keeps Flame the Whisper grooving along with a steady throb.

Other songs like "The Lucious Cabaret," "Like a Matador Pt. 1" and "Just Like Lucy Said" are both saucy and greasy with peppy acoustic plucks, castanata claps and maraca and tambourine shakes beneath the step-heavy rock plods to give them extra bounce. Exploring many tempo variations on tunes such as "Ditched On a Pile" or the peyote-laced "Ode to L&G" keeps Flame the Whisper on its toes as Andreas Bergstrom and his garage dwellers sojourn down Tobacco Road and record their obviously zany adventures along the way, even if it's the mad toro tempo of "Tango de la Muerte." For the listener, this means that each song on Flame the Whisper is a trip unto itself, frequently rocksteady and often bordering on the frayed edge of goofy. Regardless of what measures the Matadors pony up in their songs, be it rock, punk, country, surf, cha cha or calypso, the end result is a highly entertaining album with a nervy taste of cool.

Rating: ****

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