December 01, 2002

ROCK AND ROLL: CLASS OF 2002 - PAGE 2

THE HIVES

Photo by Karl Haglund

THE HIVES


Dressed to the nines in matching black outfits and white ties, the image of these five unlikely rock stars from Sweden has become ubiquitous in 2002. Who knew the world just wanted to have fun and rock out to a bunch of guys with humorous names like Nicholaus Arson, Chris Dangerous, Howlin' Pete Almqvist, Vigilante Carstroem and Dr. Matt Destruction? After having been almost universally overlooked for nine years, The Hives finally caught on in 2002 with their infectious, buzzing garage rock that harkened back to such legendary punk acts as The Stooges, The Ramones and The Flamin' Groovies. Their album, Veni, Vedi Vicious, is one of the most entertaining albums of the year and with songs such as "Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Main Offender," they've proven once again how much fun three chords and an attitude can be. The Hives are STIM members who license their music through ASCAP in the U.S.

 

PHANTOM PLANET


PHANTOM PLANET

In early 2001, Phantom Planet began recording The Guest with producers Mitchell Froom (Tom Waits, Crowded House, Cibo Matto, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney) and Tchad Blake (Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel and Sheryl Crow). When the album was done and released in early 2002, the band had created probably the first best pop rock album of the year. The Guest is a collision of youth and melody featuring catchy guitar sounds and soaring vocals. It was a breath of fresh air from a lot of the metal music that was dominating the radio. Influenced by bands like U2 and The Flaming Lips, Phantom Planet created their own unique sound and had a radio hit with "California," a song as big and sunny as the state itself. Although drummer Jason Schwartzman is most recognized as an actor for his lead role in the cult comedy film Rushmore, he and his bandmates quickly dispelled any notion that theirs was a celebrity musical side-project. The band is quite simply one of the best new American pop bands on the, well, planet.

 

 

BEN KWELLER


At the tender age of 20, Ben Kweller shows off his gift for crafty songwriting and kinetic performance with his 2002 ATO Records debut album, Sha Sha. Encompassing playful folkadelica, indie punk/pop and soaring ballads, Kweller's warm, whimsical wordplay and unstoppable power-pop hooks are in full effect on such tracks as "Wasted and Ready," and the piano-powered "In Other Words." Acclaimed by the Boston Herald as "a young, singing-songwriting wunderkind," the Brooklyn-based Kweller has spent the past few years winning over hearts with his eclectic, irresistible solo sets and opening for such kindred souls as Evan Dando, Juliana Hatfield, Jeff Tweedy and Guster. Now, with Sha Sha, Kweller has fulfilled the promise he showed as a much younger artist with his band Texas-based band Radish. In 1996, Kweller and his band were a much-hyped and much-publicized group that scored a major-label deal. After releasing one album, touring the world, and scoring a top 40 hit in the U.K., the band parted ways. Now, as a solo artist, Kweller has gained the respect of his peers and the industry and is certainly one of the best songwriters of his generation.

 

BEN KWELLER

Photo by Tobin Velland

EARSHOT


Singer/bassist Wil Martin, drummer Dieter Hartmann and guitarists Mike Callahan and Scott Kohler make up the LA based band Earshot. They hooked up in 1999 after relocating from such far away locations as Austria, France, Kansas and Ohio to pursue their musical calling in sunny SoCal. "We all had a common vision," agrees Mike. "We wanted to play heavy rock music, but take it a step further -- make it more melodic and stylistically diverse, instead of just pounding out heavy songs for the sake of it. We wanted there to be substance to what we played." Earshot's brand of moody, melodic metal has earned comparisons with Tool and caught the attention of Warner Bros. who signed them and released Letting Go, produced by David Kahne and Andy Wallace, in the summer of 2002.

 

EARSHOT

SUGARCULT

Sugarcult songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Tim Pagnotta didn't have to search too far to find a good name for his band. In fact, it was right in front of him. Pagnotta was living across the hall from a group of lesbians who referred to themselves as the "sugar cult." And he thought the name would fit perfectly with his band's progressive pop sound. The band has been tearing up both coasts, garnering rave reviews. The New York Post says "Sugarcult's pop aesthetic is snatched from British New Wave, when Elvis Costello was butting heads with Joe Jackson. Nearly every song has the potential to be a single." The Hollywood Reporter called their music "very-to-the-point power punk anthems that feature hooks, hooks and more hooks. Engaging, snot-nosed punk, poppy, fun and infectious."

 

SUGARCULT

DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL


The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most, Dashboard Confessional's second album, is a soundtrack for the lives of young romantics and lost spirits. Punk rocker Christopher Carrabba, the passionate singer-songwriter behind Dashboard, started the project as a forum for his more intimate songs. Unsure that punk rock audiences would accept his departure from his earlier bombastic sound, Carrabba jettisoned his belongings (as well as his doubts and fears) and started touring with Dashboard Confessional. There is no doubt that audiences have been won over. He is the balladeering boyfriend that every girl always wanted to break up with just to hear the break-up songs. Carrabba's simple and honest songs are both intensely personal and unquestionably universal. So, does he ever get the girl? If Dashboard Confessional's musical success is any indication, there is no doubt he will.

- KAREN CORREA

 

DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL

Photo by Marina Chavez

THE MOONEY SUZUKI


Ten sweat-drenched slabs of electrocuted rhythm & blues. That's how The Mooney Suzuki describe their second album, Electric Sweat (NYC's Gammon Records). As funny as that sounds, you'd be hard-pressed to describe it any better. Recorded in Detroit with Jim Diamond (The White Stripes, Jon Spencer), the album is brimming with melodic hooks and raw punk soul that never fails to inspire people to move. The self-proclaimed "Hardest Working Band in Show Business" make it their business to give audiences an explosive live show that sweats, shakes and clamors for the attention of every living thing within earshot. Having sharpened their performance skills by touring ceaselessly across the country, The Mooney Suzuki have endeavored to win spots with bands like The Pretty Things and The Zombies and even a coveted invitation to play New York City's "Cavestomp!" garage rock festival. The Mooney Suzuki's first album, People Get Ready, charted at #12 on CMJ Top 200 and received rave reviews across the board. Electric Sweat is even more urgent and fueled by that frantic energy that makes the Mooney Suzuki impossible to ignore.

- KAREN CORREA

 



THE MOONEY SUZUKI