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The Blue Van
Man Up
Iceberg Records?EMI Music Group
www.thebluevan.com


Glam-rock revivalists The Blue Van are both stylish and genuine in their fandangos of guitar rock/organ hooks reminiscent of '70s power pop players like Cream, Sweet and The Bay City Rollers. Copenhagen's quartet grooms their latest record Man Up from the Iceberg/EMI label with crevasses of psychedelic tremors and baubles of power pop shreds, which produce an en vogue glam-rock alloy like Sea Wolf and Razorlight. Lead vocalist/guitarist Steffen Westmark torches the tracks in emotive vocals and jagged guitar rips, cardigan by the deep molten tones of the Hammond organ of Soren Oakes Christensen and domed by the staggering beats of bassist Allan Villadesen and drummer Per Jorgensen. To some listeners, The Blue Van are copying melodies from the forefathers of '70s rock, but some listeners are going to hear something more substantive and distinctive, such as a band that has a strong bond with the glam-rock era of the '70s to such an extent that The Blue Van oil up glam-rock's pistons and crank up its rotors to give it another run.

The pummeling beats and brooding lacerations made by the guitar cuts in tracks like "Home Soon" and "Stop Thinking Of Yourself" create a belt of pulsating swells pinned by catchy bluesy hooks. It's been the band's signature sound since their debut album The Art Of Rolling in 2005. The band has a fetish for rhythmic chorus-line kicks showcased in "The Socialite," and the brusque whipping of "There Goes My Love" as Westmark implores, "Please, I'm on my knees… There goes my love." The organ has a ghostly undertow in the title track, which produces a haunting aura and levitating movements as the guitar chords spike the funky rhythmic grooves and Westmark's vocals cinch the melodic passages. The sonic flares strewn across "Silly Boy" and "Lay Me Down And Die" are fortified by chunky guitar chords embellishing the incinerating surges as the hard rock propulsions of "Out Of Control" produce shifts in the tune's momentum periodically speeding up and slowing down through the highs and the lolls.

The Blue Van not only have an attachment to glam-rock but also to country-folk textures which they draw out in the links that connect along "In Love With Myself" as the wiggling tambourine beats and cymbal strikes add a gypsy vibe to the melody. "Trees That Resemble" is also raftered in sharp, slicing guitar slashes entangled in strands of staccato beats. The band switches gears sprucing a soft-pop confection in "True" as Westmark's vocals turn sentimental, "You make me true… So damn easy to feel no good at all / But in your arms, I never feel lost."

As much as The Blue Van give a nod to '70s glam-rockers, they also dig deep into their own souls and uncover music that speaks from their own emotions crossing from glam-rock to country-folk to funk-pop. They don't corner themselves or crunch out tunes with a retro-rock feel to them, but rather they give a toast to their forefathers while following their own instincts.

-Susan Frances

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