"Kiss & Tell"
"Abra Cadaver," which opens "Tyrannosaurus Hives," begins in mid-thrash, as if the Hives couldn't wait for the tape to start rolling. That swaggering impatience is the principal attraction of the Hives, a Swedish quintet that supercharges '60s Anglo-American garage-rock. The constituent parts of the band's fourth album are entirely familiar, but they've seldom been reiterated so ardently.
Such crackling, shout-along tunes as "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones" and "Dead Quote Olympics" illustrate one definition of punk: good ol' rock 'n' roll played so fast it would make Chuck Berry's head spin. The band does slow down occasionally, notably for "Diabolic Scheme," in which singer Pelle Almqvist offers a dirty-blond interpretation of James Brown's slow-burn mode. More suited to the Hives' skill set, however, is "Missing Link," which combines the first and second MC5 albums more successfully than that band ever did. This synthesis may not be a major achievement, but certainly it is a rousing one.
The all-female entry in Sweden's punk-revival sweepstakes, Sahara Hotnights is a little less fervent than the Hives and a lot more amiable.
Singer-lyricist-guitarist Maria Andersson specializes in conventional rock sentiments -- love hurts, life stinks -- fueled by punchy melodies. There's not a single clunker on the quartet's third album, "Kiss & Tell," whose 11 glitter-punk songs hop nimbly from petulant verses to keyboard-augmented, call-and-response choruses, usually in less than 31/2 minutes.
"Go! go! go!" implores "Nerves," and the quartet takes its own advice.
From the barely two-minute "Who Do You Dance For?" to the album's four-minute epic, "The Difference Between Love and Hell," the Hotnights never cool down.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Tuesday at the 9:30 club with the Reigning Sound. * To hear a free Sound Bite from the Hives, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8130; to hear Sahara Hotnights, press 8131. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)