Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sahara Hotnights Heats Up Knitting Factory NYC

Anybody whose knowledge of Swedish rock and pop is limited to Abba is missing a lot of great music... such as the all-female band Sahara Hotnights.

At New York's Knitting Factory last Thursday the four women played an enthusiastic (if short) set of their older rockers and more mellow ballads from their newest album, “What If Leaving is a Loving Thing.”

Mind you, this show came less than two weeks after I saw another of Sweden's rock and roll exports, The Hives, at New York's Terminal 5 with The Donnas. The state of Swedish rock and pop is indeed strong, especially when you include the pop trio Peter, Bjorn, and John; the rock group The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and other groups.

Sahara Hotnights reminded me of The Donnas, in fact, besides the obvious fact that they are both all-women rock foursomes. Both started out at about the same time, in the early 1990s, and both began playing a rough-edged style of rock that has grown more polished in recent years.

Some fans have complained that “What If Leaving is a Loving Thing” is too mellow compared to the band's earlier material, and it definitely is more melodic and more ballad-oriented, with some dance rhythms thrown in. The same has been said of The Donnas, which started out sounding much like the Ramones, with loud, hard, fast two-minute songs.

But it's inevitable that a band's sound is going to change over the years, if only because the members have become better musicians. And in the case of both The Donnas and Sahara Hotnights, being being together as a band for more than 15 years is definitely going to naturally result in growth and change.

Having said that, if I were to recommend one Sahara Hotnights album to someone it would be their second disc, 2001's “Jennie Bomb.” It features their harder, more aggressive power-pop sound and plenty of catchy tunes, including “Alright Alright (Here's My Fist, Where's the Fight?).”

The only complaint I had about the Sahara Hotnights show was its short length. At 43 minutes, it was even shorter than a Donnas show (the ones I've been too have clocked in at anywhere between 50 minutes and an hour).

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