DREGEN – Dregen

Dreden albumI wonder how many people outside of Sweden really know who Dregen (born Andreas Tyrone Svensson) is?  I’m sure lots of people have heard of and about his band, glam-punk-sleaze-metal outfit Backyard Babies, but I’m a bit curious to how well-known the members of that band really are. In Sweden everybody and their mother knows who he is, but what about the rest of the world? I’m also not that sure about how big Backyard Babies are outside Sweden either, even though I know that they have released all their albums world-wide and done plenty touring in both Europe, Asia and USA. I have a feeling that despite their wild looks and bad behaviour, the Backyard Babies members are somewhat anonymous. But all that will probably change for Dregen now as he replaced Ginger (The Wildhearts) as guitarist and songwriter in Michael Monroe’s band, a spot he will hold on too as long as Backyard Babies are on hiatus. The reason why I am thinking about all this is because of the fact that Dregen now has released his first solo album. I know that this album will probably do very well in Sweden, but is his name well-known enough for anybody to care in other countries? Will the rock loving population of Canada run out to buy this? Germany? USA? Spain? They will in Japan for sure, but you get my drift.

I was never a big Backyard Babies fan. In fact, I was never a fan at all. I always thought they were, not necessarily bad, but slightly overrated, at least their earlier albums. For me, Making Enemies Is Good was the first decent Backyard Babies album and they became better and better with each album, with only People Like People Like Us (2006) as the freak in their catalogue. Their self titled and last album that came out in 2008 is my favourite Backyard Babies album by far. So it’s safe to say that I was more curious than aroused when it came to Dregen’s debut solo album. Curious about if the man would manage to write and record a good album by himself or if he would sell himself short. I really like the feeling of listening to an album with no expectations at all, to just go with the “it is what it is” kinda feeling. Those are the times when it feels good to be knocked out. Like with the opening track on this album, “Division Of Me”. It’s a real catchy rocker with a honk piano and raunchy guitars. And first single “Just Like That” – very, very catchy pop melodies on top of the punk rock that Backyard Babies plays. And let’s not talk about the album’s master piece “Flat Tyre On A Muddy Road” where we get a swamp filled southern blues with an Aerosmith “Walk This Way” kind of rock with self lived lyrics – so damn great. “Gig Pig” and “Pink Hearse” are two great Backyard Babies rockers with a nice pop vein, “One Man Army” is a brilliant, catchy rocker complete with hand claps and an Alice Cooper “No More Mr Nice Guy” riff and “Mojo’s Gone” is… well the mojo’s certainly not gone. The album’s last song is absolutely awesome.  The melodies are catchy, the riffs are just as catchy, the song rocks hard and good and it reminds med a bit of the latest Casablanca album.

Even though I really didn’t have any expectations on this album, it turned out to be a surprise for me. I’m gonna stick my neck out here and proclaim this album as the best album Dregen has ever made. Yes, I know this is his only solo album, but I mean records he has played on and written with any band. This is a straight up rock and roll record, a few mistakes here and there, but it grooves, it swings, it rocks and it contains lots of heart, soul and not that much thought – just like rock and roll should be. I’m hearing that Backyard Babies will get back together again next year. If Dregen shows up as their main song writer, that could be a really pleasant thing. Dregen has shown with this album that he has a bright future with or without Backyard Babies or Michael Monroe.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Divisions Of Me
2. Just Like That
3. Flat Tyre On A Muddy Road
4. Gig Pig
5. Pink Hearse
6. Bad Situation
7. One Man Army
8. 6:10
9. Refuse
10. Mojo’s Gone

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