If you're planning to see No Doubt on their reunion tour this summer, make sure you get there early enough to catch the opening acts. Sure, it'll be good to see Paramore as they further evolve following the Twilight hit "Decode," but the act I'm really excited about seeing is sweet Swedes the Sounds. The band recently released its third album, Crossing The Rubicon. Check out the video for the album's opening track and lead single "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake," which was produced by Tinted Windows' James Iha and Adam Schlesinger of Smashing Pumpkins and Fountains Of Wayne fame, respectively.
Not to be confused with the '80s British band and Dave DiMartino fav the Sound, the Sounds came together in the late '90s in Helsingborn, Sweden, after high school chums guitarist Felix Rodriguez and bassist Johan Bengtsson drafted drummer Fredrik Nilsson and singer Maja Ivarsson to fill out the combo. Despite its title, Living In America, the band's 2002 debut, was recorded in Sweden at various locales including Nilsson's Helsingborg apartment. A year after the disc became a hit in their homeland, it was picked up for release in the U.S., supported by the band's stints opening for the Strokes and playing the Warped Tour.
The strikingly covered Dying To Say This To You followed in 2006, but just as things were looking up, the band found itself at odds with its record label. Rather than kowtow to someone else's vision, the band decided to go it own its own and record Crossing The Rubicon on its own dime. "The album title is actually about where we've been at for the last year," Rodriguez has noted. "When we made the decision to do everything ourselves, we felt we were crossing the point of no return."
I'm happy to report that the Sounds decision to go the independent route has seemingly freed up the band artistically. The Sounds still rock with a mix of spiky guitars and new wave-inspired synths that at times recall mid-period Blondie, but the band seems more focused on Crossing The Rubicon and more willing to take left turns. Some have criticized Ivarsson's "Nordic pseudo-rapping" on "Beatbox," but I actually find it kind of charming, as it recalls the days Deborah Harry helped bring hip-hop to the mainstream with "Rapture." Elsewhere, in "The Only Ones," Ivarsson and company channel the Boss via the Killers in a track that manages to sound simultaneously classic and fresh. That's not an easy combo to pull off, but the Sounds do it with ease on Crossing The Rubicon.