The Hives Veni Vidi Vicious

Formed in 1995 and with a few releases already under their belts, these young Swedes move up a few steps in the punk rock biting order with their first record to be co-released by American big wigs Epitaph records. It's always great to see a band wearing ascots and white shoes, and the Hives seem to have the right attitude to pull such a look off. With a sound that borrows from both '60s and '90s influences, the sum total comes out like a Rocket From the Crypt influenced Milkshakes. Their clean, high energy garage punk barrage features some cool guitar and vocal arrangements and is best exemplified by the songs "Declare Guerre Nuclaire," and "A Get Together to Tear it Apart" which sounds more than just a bit like Canada's own Smugglers. When they take it down on "Hate To Say I Told You So" and "Find Another Girl" they don't lose much energy, and manage to work in some great futuristic phasing and synthesiser effects. They also have a little bit of Link Wray-style "chicken" guitar playing on the standout song "Inspection Wise 1999" and finish off the record with the flat-out frat-stomper "Supply and Demand." This is a record that's very familiar sounding but also possesses enough nice little twists to keep it sounding fresh. (Epitaph)