Having impressed a great many with their self-titled EP of 2011, Norwegian rock band Electric Woodland take things further into richer potency with first album Potrero. A ten track mixture of classic rock and metal infused with an equally vintage soaking of blues, the release is a magnetic lure for the imagination which though a little undulating in its heights has all the craft and invention not forgetting compelling sound, to push the Skogbygda band right up to the coat tails of the likes of The Black Keys and Them Crooked Vultures. It is an absorbing encounter which seduces the passions with an infectiousness and enterprise which at times lingers and seduces long after its departure to make for one memorable and easy to re-engage with pleasure.
Electric Woodland came to be in 2009 taking influences from the likes of The Doors, Deep Purple, and as is openly evident, The Black Keys into their fiery melodies and carefully sculpted sound. As mentioned their EP placed a certain focus and success on the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Peder Kjaernli, bassist Marius Nordby, guitarist Christian Olsen-Ruud, and drummer Emil Kjaernli, from which they have stretched and driven on their imagination and songwriting on the new album. Recording Potrero on analogue tape at the barn studio of Norwegian Grammy winners Amund and Henrik Maarud, Electric Woodland tease and seduce with the emerging album though not always to the same strength throughout admittedly. nevertheless the Snaxville Recordings release is relentlessly captivating and resourcefully appetising.
As soon as the heated guitar strokes cup the ears opener Heavy Eyes gives more than a hint of what is too come, their blues kissed tones an immediate lure caged by punchy beats and additional acidic melodic enticement prowled through by the great bass tones of Nordby. The guitars sculpt a reserved yet stomping gait which simply magnetises the senses and imagination, a Queens Of The Stone Age swagger and seduction woven into the sonic bait with the vocals only adding to its essence. There is also a classic bred familiar sound to the song though one evading definition of its source, the band’s influences maybe simply breeding a recognisable air to the refreshing endeavour making the strongest persuasion.
The following Bad Shoe not only cements the impressive start but takes it to another level to fully open up a hunger within the already emerged appetite for the release. Once again guitars make the initial contact before vocal harmonies caress the ears and Peder Kjaernli opens up his fine voice for the brewing narrative. There is a definite rockabilly feel to the core stroll and vocal delivery, a rock ‘n’ roll stance to which melodies and sonic expression weaves and stokes its evocative flames and textures. Not for the first or last time the guitar play is constant bait alongside the mutually gripping rhythms and barbed hooks that litter the song and album throughout.
After the slow burner This House, a track which smoulders and writhes within its blues crafted opening shell before holding a breath and erupting into an excellent brazen melodic lined dusty romp of again QOTSA like scuzz filtered energy, Have You Seen My Baby pushes the blues coloured walls of the release to another diverse depth. The song with its romping rhythms led by the great throaty bass feels like a major anthem for the band within moments, the guitars and emerging keys casting a spellbinding tide of invention over the ears. Drummer Emil Kjaernli is an attention grabbing key to the song though everything about it is an irresistible hook for the passions, the track best described as Seasick Steve meets The Black Keys with Kyuss in close attention.
From here the album goes into a bit of a lull though really it is just that the likes of To You, Humbread, and Old Airplane do not manage to light the same potent fires as their predecessors like those before. All tracks are superbly written and crafted, each providing moments and lures which certainly recruit eager attention and a want to engage them again and again, especially the first two of that selection, but each lacking the spark to raise the same emotions as before. That is something the song Electric Woodland has no problem with, the song another classic to rival the opening pair. The rhythmic onslaught lays the first inescapable trap, the drums a commanding provocateur soon aided in its mission by the grizzled riffs and the ever alluring vocals. There is a predation to the song which never leaves the listener alone, a niggling persistence which you can only devour greedily as the song, safe in its knowledge it has you hooked, paints a melodic venture with stoner tendencies and blues mixed hues. It is a brilliant reminder of just how good this band is and will be.
Closing with the decent enough acoustic folk bred song Dog Without A Bone, a slight Arctic Monkeys air to its elegance, Potrero is an exciting and deeply satisfying release, one which marks out Electric Woodland as a band which has to be paid attention to. The album suggests as the band grows it is just the appetiser for greater things to come; our lips already being licked in anticipation.
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