Jeff Moody

The Hives return, but don’t call it “Garage Rock”

"Lex Hives" is "pretty much what rock and roll is supposed to be." The high-energy Swedish band (incredibly!) will be playing at Summerfest on Friday, June 29.

By - Jun 23rd, 2012 04:00 am

Long-running themes in Hives History are things I identify with: Brashness. Bombast. Straightforwardness. Consistent identification with The Common Man. CONFIDENCE. Cheerful non-conformance.

It’s a shame that The Hives, a hard-working, high-energy bunch of Swedes who play American-style rock and roll as well or better than most Americans are relentlessly tagged as a “GARAGE ROCK” band. Not that there is anything wrong with bands that play their rock music in a garage. Better to play in the garage than the basement, I mean, at least when you have to haul yer forty-seven hundred pounds of gear in and out of a garage, you don’t have to drag it up and down a narrow, creaky, cobwebby flight of stairs. No, when you are in a garage band, you can back the van right up and load right in! If’n yer band is gonna work for peanuts (LIKELY…), then why kill yerself?

You could call The Hives a Designer Executive Bird Polka band and they wouldn’t even care, but that’s not my point. My point is that there are so many other things you could call this band in trying to describe their sound, but nearly EVERYONE uses the term “Garage Rock,” and that’s LAZY. I found this out after I had fully formed an opinion on their new elpee Lex Hives, which also happens to be a self-released recording. I really resist reading contemporary music writing to protect and maintain my fractured perspective on the whole sordid biz, but since it’s been awhile since the band’s last album, I was looking for some biographical info. All I got was annoyed.

In their decade-plus career, they’ve moved from Burning Heart Records to Interscope to their own Disques Hives imprint. The title of the new elpee reaffirms this. “Lex” is the latin word (The Hives have a history of playing with Latin words, yet another thing I like about them) for “law.” They are their own men, setting their own rules, and the first rule of The Hives is DON’T FOLLOW. Every record is open rebellion against all types of authority in a crazed party atmosphere. Lex Hives is no exception. It’s pretty much what rock and roll is supposed to be.

1000 Answers” is the track that blasts straight through the roof to join Thee Very Best of their arsenal, crazy-good stuff like “Supply And Demand” (from 2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious, a record that just explodes with hits) “Diabolic Scheme” (from 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives) and “Square One Here I Come,” the premiere party track for the unemployed from 2007’s Black And White Album. Also prepped for barrel tapping is “Midnight Shifter,” a ready-made anthem piled high with horns, handclaps, and the usual Hives swagger. “Without The Money” starts out all Screamin’ Jay Hawkins until Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist steps up to the mic.

Lex Hives is yet another solid record that is just in time for summer, and speaking of which, these guys (incredibly!) will be playing the Summerfest Rock Stage on Friday, June 29 at 10:00 p.m.

Categories: Rock, Stripwax

0 thoughts on “STRIPWAX: The Hives return, but don’t call it “Garage Rock””

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kudos to The Hives — their continued success in 2012 (and that of bands like, say, The Black Keys) makes it clear that garage has finally broken through. For a genre that was until recently very obscure and overlooked, this is a dizzying turn of events.

    It should be mentioned that in addition to such big acts, there is a growing number of vintage garage-rock purists out there who are not-so-quietly focused on preserving the original sound of 60s garage.

    A good example is Chapel Hill NC’s THEE DIRTYBEATS (, a band that specializes in recreating the tough, primitive, aggressive vibe of early to mid-60s garage rock and psychedelia — the sound that inspired proto-punk pioneers like MC5 and The Stooges.

    To get that sound, THEE DIRTYBEATS make use of some unwieldy period gear, including vintage KAPA, Mosrite, Rickenbacker and Fender guitars, Fender and Ampeg amps, Big Muff fuzzes, Morley wahs — even coiled guitar cords. The result is prickly, gritty, unpredictable… and (if you are into that pure vintage garage rock thing), utterly glorious.

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