September 15, 2023

There’s a veritable “brotherhood” of Scandi bands indulging in high energy, retro, 60’s influenced punky rock, all loving their soul and doo-wop influences but blended with high energy up-front rock’n’roll. Märvel are one stand-out crew in this genre, Dictator Ship are another! A frenetic foursome channelling their inner obsessions of 60’s soul, inspired by early giants such as Sam & Dave, Sly & The Family Stone, Jackie Wilson and The Platters…..somehow welded to the anarchic attitude of MC5! Even the album covers are like 60’s film posters…

Dictator Ship released their debut album Your Favorites on The Sign Records in 2020. The album was received with acclaim, Classic Rock Magazine describing it as ”An astounding live-in-studio debut, channelling the MC5’s explosive, action-rock remodel of 60s soul. Essential. 9/10”.

Your very own VT reviewer said this: “very energetic, short and direct whist staying very tuneful, with healthy dashes of bands as disparate as the Four Tops, The Saints, The Tubes, Status Quo and Foo Fighters thrown in!” 

Since their debut, Dictator Ship have released a few singles and now follow up with their second album Electric Jihad. It’s a step up from the debut album, with even more harmonies in the vocals and more structure in the guitars. The band explains: “We knew from the start that we wanted more harmonies in the vocals than we had on Your Favorites and we are very satisfied with the end result. It’s also a reflection of how we as a group feel about the society we live in. The true frustration that a capitalist society plants in you may not bring out the best solutions to the problem, but it’s true and honest and should be taken seriously either way.

Ten tracks on the album, opening with And Then I Heard About The Groove, a perfect high-intensity introduction to the band. Unashamedly high-speed retro, it’s impossible to keep still to this! Short but oh so sassy. Electric Jihad follows, a darker tale of the modern world driven by non-stop speed-riffage, punctuated by some scalding guitar and an adventurous bridge section.

City Girl takes me back to the Flamin’ Groovies, innovative soulmates of the MC5 with that heady Rickenbacker sound and four-part harmonies. Perfect Power Pop.

Just Like Before follows, an unrelenting high speed thrap through the gears. Sorry State is a little different and I’m not sure it completely works, but no harm in trying. By way of contrast, the intro to Losing Ground is also different and works really well. An arresting combination of Foo Fighters and doo-wop, with great harmonies. Those Without Power and Terror sort of merge into each other, the chords are rather similar. That’s my only slight criticism of this record, several tracks are sort of clones of each other on early listening.

Resignation Boogie, after the harmonic intro, is straight-out boogie and they do it very well. She Makes Me Wanna brings the song-set to a close, a huge Beach Boys doo-wop sound interspersed with power pop, all done very well – and that’s the thing, that ‘feel’ of the Beach Boys had me visualising “Happy Days” several times during this romp!

The songs on this CD are all pretty strong, if a little similar in approach. All four of the band contribute to a shared vocal approach that adds much flavour to the songs in their studio form, but it doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate how strong they can be live. If you like high-speed power chords twinned with tuneful melodies and great vocals, do get to hear this!

Electric Jihad was produced by Stefan Brändström (Gatuplan, Märvel, Side Effects, Satan takes a holiday, The Holy Ghost) and the band in The Dustward Studio, Stockholm. Stefan also mixed and mastered the record. As with their debut album, Dictator Ship has once again teamed up with The Sign Records, who will release the album world wide on black vinyl, and all streaming services on the 29th of September 2023.