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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 221 - 09/09/14

Hvitmalt Gjerde
Ville venner
K. Dahl Eftf.

This is the second longplayer [their self-titled debut came last year] from the young band, by now reduced to a trio, from Bergen, western Norway. They're inspired by 50 years old rock music, from the first half of the 1960s when this was the wild and yet innocent expression of the day. There are some fumes of garage here in between, especially in "J.B.", but mainly the electric guitars lack the garage distortion. Instead they often include a surf twang. The members of Hvitmalt Gjerde, meaning White Painted Fence, sure know their Beatles, Stones, Kinks etc., too. In addition to American surf rock, it seems they're into what used to be called beat music, meaning blues inspired rock and pop as played by the bands mentioned above and their contemporaries of the 1963-65 era on both sides of the Atlantic before they started to fuck with the formula and went into psychedelia and other exploring directions. The lead vocals of Johannes Fjeldstad, also the lyricist, organist and occasional organ and harmonica player, on the other hand, are quite distorted. They're treated with a nonchalant roughness that gives little clue that the album was recorded at a state of the art studio in north-western Norway. In only four days. Wow! 10 songs and the running time is of the classic kind, too. The album clocks in at a little more than 27 minutes in all, which adds to the retro factor. But like the LPs released 50 years ago, this is about ideal. Enough of a good thing can be enough.

One might ask what's the point of young boys writing and playing music that draws heavily on what was popular two or three decades before they were born. And for sure, they don't break any musical ground here. The lyrics deal with the same topic as back then. Let's call it love or relationships. You know... But mainly the issues are dealt with in a bit more fresh and modern way than the lyrics of the role models. One exception is the very Beatlesque "Et Kyss Til" (Another Kiss), one of the most catchy here that seems to be an updated pastiche of The Fab Four's "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "I Wanna Be Your Man" etc. from 1963 with an authentic scream and all:

'Jeg har bestemt meg, for at jeg skal bli din mann
uansett hvor du er, uansett i hvilket land
bli min, vær så snill
du kan få hva du vil.
Kan jeg få et kyss til?

(I've decided, I wanna be your man
no matter where you are, no matter in which country
be mine, please
you can have whatever you want.
May I have another kiss?)'

In addition to the songs mentioned above, "Opp Ned I Karusell" (Upside Down In A Merry-Go-Round) that closes the album, is one that stands out from the majority. It starts as a typical sweet folk-tinged ballad where a 60s flavoured organ competes with the guitars. But it grows a bit and turns into a power ballad with reverbed guitars and drums that sounds somewhat younger than the rest of the songs. "Jeg Finnner Deg" (I'll Find You) has a little bit of trumpet towards the end that adds to the variation. The remaining songs of Ville Venner (Wild Friends) are mainly rocky guitar-dominated energy pills.

The main asset of the album is the youthful energetic enthusiasm of every song, sung in unmistakable Bergen dialect. It's contagious and saves the day, or night.

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