Raveonettes Whip It On in NYC

Denmark band offer the best new garage rock

By |

There is only one thing better than falling head over heels for a new band at first sight -- and that's going back for more and knowing you were right the first time. So I can tell you with complete confidence: the Raveonettes are not only Denmark's hot gift to the New Garage. They make tight blazing pop of the top order, the kind that can quickly become a personal passion -- and a radio phenomenon.

When I saw the Raveonettes in May at Spot, a two-day music conference and festival in the Danish city of Aarhus, I didn't know a thing about the band's history -- singer-guitarist Sune RoseWagner had been in the punky Danish combo, Psyched Up Janis -- or its recordings: one EP, Whip It On, out that week. Everyone else there did. The Raveonettes played to a full, beaming, bouncing auditorium of fans, gunning through a near-hour of golden fuzz. There was precedent aplenty flying through the air: Dick Dale twang, Sixties girl group pop, Velvet Underground noise. But the Raveonettes played it all at once, honed to a Nuggets-like finish, packed inside two-minute marvels such as "Attack of the Ghost Riders," "My Tornado" and "Beat City."

Wagner, singer-bassist Sharin Foo, guitarist Manoj Ramdas and drummer Jakob Hoyer made their American debut tonight in humbler circumstances: an early-evening, thirty-minute CBGB showcase for complete strangers (except for a small pack of happy Danes up front). And they still killed. The Raveonettes also showed what's missing from current garage: vocal candy. The Hives, the Strokes, the White Stripes: they're all howl, yelp and stomp. But Wagner and Foo sing together in a compressed, modal boy-girl blend that, against hurricane feedback and booming trebled bass guitar, sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain with Blondie's Deborah Harry at the mike. Or the Ramones fronted by a Gregorian Shangri-Las.

At CBGB, the Raveonettes introduced three new songs they had just finished recording -- the night before -- with producer Richard Gottherer, who midwifed Blondie's first two albums. "Rave On" was a fast funky avalanche of joy; "Chain Gang of Love" could have been written uptown at the Brill Building thirty years ago; "That Great Love Sound" was three minutes of racing menace and sugar. The show was also a ferocious advertisement for Whip It On, a record actually made by Wagner and Foo with drum machines but no less fun for it. Played at full-quartet strength, the medicine-dance throb of "Veronica Fever" and the dirty-sweet drive of "Attack of the Ghost Riders" packed a tonal color missing from the Hives' monochrome thrust and the White Stripes' stark art-blues.

The Raveonettes went back to Denmark after this show; it may be awhile before they're back and those new songs come out. But Whip It On, released by the Danish label Crunchy Frog, is available online. Get it now, and join the buzz. You can thank me later.