March 10, 2020

“Your Favorites” is the raw and primitive debut album from Dictator Ship, the latest band to have been signed up by Swedish record label The Sign Records. (It seems The Sign are on a mission to spread the word about ‘Scando-Rock’ in all its forms to a global audience!) The CD continues a recent trend of releases that are neither a full album nor a conventional EP, but as you get 27 minutes of high-speed rock’n’roll spread over seven tracks, the intention is to leave you fairly shattered and fully satisfied!

The album “Your Favourites” was recorded in a small log cabin in Värmland, Sweden, by band member John Sijbren Leonard. The band mic’ed and pre-mixed all the drums through an old PA-mixing console from the ’70s, then condensed the drum sound onto just two stereo channels. They did this to save on channels, mostly because the old console only had eight usable channels! In addition, John wanted the sound to be basic, as though they had recorded it in their own rehearsal space with only one microphone, and not in “some fancy studio” (his words). The entire album was therefore recorded live, with the vocals added on. Although this gave the potential for some details to get lost along the way, the album succeeds in capturing that rawness. John comments: “I’m really pleased with the lo-fi sound and the honesty of this album. It sounds like us, and that’s the hardest thing in recording, to capture your own sound.”

It’s fair to say they’ve achieved their goal, I can confirm that the sound isn’t muddy, it’s clear and balanced and VERY energetic, short and direct whist staying very tuneful. This is garage-band music or pub-rock as espoused by the early Clash and The Jam, with heavy doses of 60’s soul and healthy dashes of bands as disparate as the Four Tops, The Saints, The Tubes, Status Quo and Foo Fighters thrown in – and that’s the weirdest thing, a lead singer that simultaneously sounds like Dave Grohl, Fee Waybill (Tubes) and B.B. King! – or maybe that shouldn’t be so weird, and simply a reaffirmation of rock. Whatever – add to this a relentless series of power chords and melodic choruses and it sounds just fine!

The band are: Petter Heinemann (Vocals and Guitar); John Sijbren Leonard (Vocals and Guitar); Viktor Henriksson (Vocals and Drums); David Ericsson (Vocals and Bass)

As a band, it’s clear that Dictator Ship have learned their trade from playing live in countless pubs and bars, and from the day when the first chord was struck, the band felt this was what they were born to do. The song on this CD are strong, with all four of them contributing 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!