Since most of the landmark '60s rock albums are still in print, contemporary bands that undertake that style are competing not only with their peers but also with the Beatles and the Stones. That's a heavy burden, but one that doesn't seem to weigh on some younger bands -- most, though not all, of them Swedish.
Classic-style rock songs don't fit into what remains of the Top 40 format, yet the Caesars have a hit in "Jerk It Out." The jumpy, Farfisa-driven tune was brought to American ears not by the radio, but by an iPod commercial. The song was released in 2002 and isn't typical of "Paper Tigers," the Swedish quartet's fourth album. The newer material favors folk-rock guitar over garage-rock organ, which suits principal songwriter Joakim Ahlund's wistful sensibility. Despite their imperial name, the Caesars are less swaggering than such fellow Swedish retro-rockers as the Hives. New songs such as "Spirit" and "It's Not the Fall That Hurts" are a bit more complex than "Jerk It Out" but just as appealing. If mainstream radio still had room for music like this, "Paper Tigers" would be good for three or four chart hits.
The Sights hail from Detroit, long known for rock-soul hybrids. So it's hardly a surprise that the trio's self-titled third album draws heavily on rhythm and blues, albeit mostly filtered through Brit-rock influences. The CD is framed by two covers, opening with gospel performer Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey's "I'm Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song" and closing with a rollicking (and unlisted) version of the Faces' "Stay With Me." The Sights are a guitar-drums-keyboards trio, and organ or piano drives most of these songs, from the bluesy "Circus" to the jaunty "Backseat," whose music-hall touches recall the Kinks. Such influences, while not crippling, are a little too overt. The Sights don't sound like mere revivalists, but they haven't quite come into their own.
-- Mark Jenkins
Both appearing Wednesday at the 9:30 club.