LOCOMOTIVE – Organic

Locomotive - OrganicRemember back in the day when missing the opening act when you went to a gig was way out of the question? Or maybe that was just me? No, when I started going to gigs in the 80’s, to catch the opening act was a must. For this, I had three reasons – 1. If a small band that I really liked was opening for a big band that I liked, then how could I miss that? 2. If the opening act was unknown to me, then how could I miss the opportunity to check them out, they just might be my next favorite band? 3. If the opener sucked, well, I kinda had to check them out anyway because they might be a great live band and then I’d change my mind and maybe they’s become another favorite. Hows that for being a nerd? Well, it wasn’t just me because back then the venues were usually way more than half-full when the opening act went on and none of my friends could ever imagine missing the opener either. Today is a different story. If the opener isn’t some band I really like, I usually come to the gig close to when the headliner is about to enter the stage. Why that is, I’m not sure, but maybe the answer is that I’m older and a bit too comfortable for my own good. What do all this have to do with Locomotive and their debut record, then? Well, see, I attended a Dan Reed Network concert recently and since I knew that Locomotive would play, I thought I’d check them out. I had seen their video on Facebook and I liked what I heard, so I thought that I would at least come in time to see some of their gig. Luckily enough for me, they were just about to go on when I entered the small venue and boy, was I glad I was there. Locomotive is a band that have Electric Boys’ rhythm guitar player Franco Santunione as the lead guitarist and together with the rest of the band – Tobias Ågren – lead vocals, Urban Danielsson – bass, Jon Skäre – Drums and Henning Winnberg on keyboards – plays, well, rock and roll baby!, to put it simple. And live, the band had an amazing groove and their influences – Rolling Stones to Kiss to Lenny Krantz – were all over us and all I could think was “thank God, I wasn’t too jaded to miss this gig”. Then, I realised I had to review this record. It turned out that the album was released September 15 – I had totally missed that – and that the album is only released digitally and on Spotify, which kind of sucks. I want the hard ware, the real McCoy and not just ones and zeros. I want the real record. That said, the album is one and half month old which usually makes it a bit too old to review, but I don’t care, I was curious as Hell of if the band would be a s good in the studio as on stage. So after the gig I asked singer Ågren if he could send me a link to the album and he agreed.

“Rock And Roll Baby”, the band’s first single / video open the album and I must say that when I just saw the video – I had only seen this once prior to listening to this album – I thought the song was good, no more, no less, but through my headphones, this song grew into a monster. Sure, I remember the unholy groove it had live and that might have had something to do with it, but the song is awesome. It has a kick-ass Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”-ish riff and the Lenny Kravitz influence is also apparent in this distinct rocker. Should be a hit. “Help Me” is a funk influenced rocker, a  bit on the soft-rock side, but still with a killer groove and a fantastic melody. With “Eyes” they go even funkier, the groove is infectious and the soul and pop influences make this rocker a stand out track. Slightly commercial, this one should do good on the radio. Single material is also “Wear Me Out”, a pop / rock / funk pearl that swings like a motherf**ker with a contagious refrain. A song like that shouldn’t pass anyone by unnoticed. “Carousel” takes a more soft rock and darker turn, but with a melody to die for and killer arrangements – one of my favorites on this record. “Ten Minutes” is more on the ballad side of rock but with a bluesy and funky groove with a 70’s style and the rhythm section really breaks loose and nails this tune hard. “Objects In The Mirror” also comes along with a big 70’s vibe and part of the song goes towards an almost progressive touch. There’s some amazing strings on it that gives the tune a different vibe and the organ solo is killer. “Quite Alright (In The Studio)” has a riff and arrangement that sounds a bit like Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music”, so to call this song a funk rocker can’t be all that wrong. The song is very much its own boss, so it’s not even close to a clone.  “Sorry I Am Dead” is one of the best songs on the album, an upbeat ballad with a darker tone. But the melody – especially in the refrain – is über-catchy and sticks like glue, although, not in a radio-friendly cheese-pop way. “Rocket Ride” is a total swinger with blues, soul and rock melted into one style and just for the hell of it we get a cool mid 70’s Alice Cooper and Kiss influence to groove along with. Do I need to point out that the song is great? “Spread The Word” might just have the album’s most contagious chorus, it’s the kind that you will remember no matter if you like it or not. Sounds like a hit to me. The closing track is called “This Life” and is a swinging rocker with a big hit feel and again a striking chorus that mixes pop and rock in a funky way.

The title of this record really sums up how Locomotive sound – organic is the key word. They could have called it dynamic as well because, apart from the high quality songs and the band members’ great performances, dynamics is what this album is all about. The sound and feel are down to earth and rootsy yet still pretty polished, clean-cut and smooth, but never cheesy or sterile. If I have to knock on anything it has to be that I would have liked the same bite and attack as they provided us with live. I’m a guy who love loud guitars and punching drums, even in other genres other than rock. But when the band deliver such a brilliant piece of music, those things actually feels trivial. What I really need now is for the guys to release this on CD and / or vinyl – mp3’s and streaming just don’t rock the way it should. But until then, plug this anyway, this is a record way too good to be missed, no matter which way you choose to listen to it!

9/10

Tracklist:

1. Rock And Roll Baby
2. Help Me
3. Eyes
4. Wear Me Out
5. Carousel
6. Ten Minutes
7. Objects In The Mirror
8. Quite Alright (In The Studio)
9. Sorry I Am Dead
10. Rocket Ride
11. Spread The Word
12. This Life

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