Kicking the habits

The Raveonettes change (for a change)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  January 9, 2009

090109_raveonettes_main
DIFFERENCE ENGINE: “We always strived to be something other than an ordinary rock band,” says Sune Rose Wagner.

Norse code
Scandinavians crack a winning formula
The name Raveonettes is a mash-up of the Ronettes and Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” a fact that the band never tried to obscure. Their overt formula of “ ’60s girl groups + Jesus-and-Mary-Chain scuzz = nihilistic bliss” puts them in a long line of Scandinavian magpies who collect bits of Western styles and traditions and return them in slicker packaging. Below are some of the more successful examples of this tried-and-true Scandinavian makeover.

DICTATORS + ALICE COOPER make-up + obscene ACEFREHLY–isms = Norway’s TURBONEGRO.

STOOGES + MICK JAGGER’s pout + suits = Sweden’s the HIVES.

JUDAS PRIEST + ANTON LEVEY + BARRY GIBB’s falsetto = Denmark’s KING DIAMOND.

SPICE GIRLS + PEPE LE PEW + pleather = Danish headache machine AQUA.

SISTERS OF MERCY + T. REX + D’ANGELO = Finland’s H.I.M.

The wry wistfulness of the KINKS + the wasted misanthropy of ’60s STONES + the dorky wordplay and classic-rock obsession of SLOAN = Sweden’s the SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES.

I can't be the only one who, asked to name the most face-melting guitar moment in the last couple of years of recorded music, would point to the 1:57 mark (and onward) of "Aly, Walk with Me," the opening track on the Raveonettes' 2007 release Lust Lust Lust. It's a loud, soul-shattering, noteless vortex of feedback that multiplies and divides like the edge of a fractal as viewed through a thousand tiny mirrors, and it occurs in what is an otherwise baleful and Nick Cavey funereal trudge.

"I'm just so happy that we were able to capture that sound with that take," explains guitarist and songwriter Sune Rose Wagner. "We used to have a lot of songs back in the days before we recorded that were very dissonant, but I think we felt that we wanted to be more of a melodic band and to have a nice melody that would create tension with the noise. I don't think that we can make a more harsh noise than the one on 'Aly, Walk with Me' — it's kind of a pinnacle, for us, of the whole noise thing, that's going to be a very hard one to top. I don't know if we want to try it again. But it's a beautiful sound."

Anyone familiar with Wagner's œuvre with the Raveonettes (who come to the Paradise next Thursday) should be surprised by the idea that, having created something awesome, he's ready to move on to something different. His successful and brutally stylish rock duo exploded out of Copenhagen in the early naughts, armed with tasteful worn-on-sleeve influences that highlighted both his switchblade six-string Jesus-and-Mary-Chain-isms and vocalist Sharin Foo's Nico-esque ice-queen charm. They proceeded to churn out record after record of high quality and consistent sound. Has he become unstuck?

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