Low Life Achivement

A-Bombs

Universal/House of Kicks, 1999

http://myspace.com/theabombsuk

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/19/2003

Keeping it real. That's the stigma that garage bands carry with them. Stripped-down production, one-take tracks and distorted guitars, baby! Such simplistic tactics might have you thinking these bands are low life achievers if you didn't know any better.

Scandinavia has been home base for the recent garage rock revival. Trust me when I say that the Nordic area deserves the real credit for launching bands like the White Stripes (U.S.), the Vines (Australia), and the Strokes (U.S) into their various levels of current stardom. All this while the true forefathers of this genre, The Nomads and The Hellacopters, remain largely undiscovered by anyone living west of the Atlantic Ocean.

And while Stockholm, Sweden's A-Bombs have long since disbanded, it won't keep me from walking the plank and saying that these guys deserve mention in the "essential" category by temporarily overlooking the fact that they only ever released two albums themselves. Sure, they missed the opportunity to cash in by breaking up on the cusp of 2002's garage-rock phenomenon. For that, some might call them underachievers. And yes, they misspelled the title of their five-track EP, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Low Life Achivement. I'll credit this action as creative genius since there is a beautiful irony in this.

Led by Chuck Pounder on lead vocals and guitar (yes, Hellacopters fans, that Chuck Pounder) the A-Bombs fit nicely into the fuel-actioned rock n' roll category. Low Life Achivement has all the elements needed to make this a legitimate claim as the songs are built along slightly distorted but accelerating guitar hooks and Pounder's straightforward vocal style.

"Satisfaction Got No Friend" is a quick gallop of a song that showcases a number of Skynyrd-esque guitar solos as it stop-starts its way through a varied mixed-tempo arrangement. While Pounder vocalizes the track with authoritative conviction, it's the following track, "My Love is the Devil" that has him crooning at his best as his style comes off in a more pleading manner. The background vocals of Nicke Royale of the Hellacopters provide added depth to make this the preferred song on the album.

The closing track, "T.C.B." would normally be classified as a ballad of sorts if it weren't for the crunch of the guitars as Pounder winds down each verse. The result is a gritty plea that has Pounder declaring he's a "living lie" as he asks if "it's true what they say about you." The rest of the lyrics seem to have him living dangerously in a state of self-doubt.

The A-Bombs' Low Life Achivement is an EP that won't strike anyone as an overly complex production. It relies on plenty of guitar hooks and wankery that naysayers of the band will cite as a certain typical male overindulgence. That observation aside, Low Life Achivement is an album that flows brilliantly from beginning to end with no real surprises. Pounder's vocals are heartfelt and that should count for plenty as another guy who repeatedly cashes the same chip, Bruce Springsteen, comes to mind.

Rating: A

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© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Universal/House of Kicks, and is used for informational purposes only.