Viagra Boys “Welfare Jazz” (2021)

     Music is something that has been shared between friends and family as long as I can remember.  As many different influences as I have had in my life, nobody has ever challenged my tastes and preferences for as long and as consistently as my dear friend Jim.  We first met in junior high school, and as we both discovered the magical world of rock and roll, our friendship blossomed.  We even performed together in our first air guitar performance, representing as Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in the classic act that was Fred Zeppelin.

     As we moved into high school, our friendship only became stronger, even as we established our own identities and slightly different circle of friends.  By then, Jim was fully embracing the many alternative sounds of the early 1980s as we were learning how to push back against the world around us while also trying to conform.  Jim dove deeper into the world of punk and alternative, and even took me (briefly) to my first hardcore show, the Circle Jerks at the Rainbow Music Hall.  I only lasted about three songs before I went across the street to look at records at K-Mart, but I’m still grateful for his introduction to me to all sounds different and unique.

     After high school and dozens of shows that we saw together, we went off to college as roommates and friends.  College opened my eyes much further, but Jim was always at the cutting edge of new sounds for me.  We had some of the greatest times, and endured some unbelievable tragedies during that time, but somehow, we both made it out, and started on our remarkable separate paths to happiness and fulfillment.  To this day, Jim remains one of the most influential people in all of Denver with regards to music and counterculture… what better compliment for a friend for a guy who has spent his life working for “the man”?

     As I asked for his recommendation for a new album to appreciate, I knew it would be outside my circle of familiarity, but I never could have imagined how much I would love it.  Today’s selection is the Swedish band Viagra Boys, and their second studio album, “Welfare Jazz”.  I could make some terrible jokes here, but honestly, I think they might taint what has been a really phenomenal experience learning this album.

     If I had to classify their sound, it would be some byproduct and evolution of punk, with an extensively sophisticated sound quality.  The closest I can come up with for a comparison is when the Butthole Surfers gave us the song “Pepper”, but this record is really unique and a true gem.  Most of these songs will be automatic adds to my playlist, but I will highlight some of my favorites.

     Three songs that I love for their raw vocals from Sebastian Murphy as they are blended into a diversified sound background are “Secret Canine Agent”, “I Feel Alive”, and “To the Country”.  I honestly can’t believe this band is Swedish, as their sound comes across as genuinely American.  Even above those three tracks, there are three other songs that are my absolute favorites.

     The first is the album opener, “Ain’t Nice”.  As Jim would say, this song just rawks, and it absolute demands your attention and energy for the rest of the ride.  “6 Shooter” is another fast-paced rocker, and the basslines from Henrik Hockert just blow my mind and race my heart.

     Oddly enough, my favorite song of all turns out to be a cover but excuse my ignorance for not recognizing it as such until Christie showed me the light.  The last song of the album is a truly enjoyable rendition of “In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine.  There is a cosmic air surrounding this rendition, and I love the vocal combination of Murphy and guest Amy Taylor.  I adore the message of this song, as it reminds each of us that no matter how many issues we have and see in ourselves, there is always the hope that someone else out there will love us despite of, and perhaps because of, our many unique flaws and traits.

     So, Jim, you hit a home run with this pick.  I honestly think I will be hard-pressed to find another new album I enjoyed as much as this one and yes, leave it to you for finding me Swedish punk rock that is not only rocking but very moving as well.  Just like you my friend… I love you tons and I’m grateful for the 40+ years we have been rocking out together.  Don’t ever change a thing.

Fred Zeppelin (1982)

Published by tacopepper

A music fan...

One thought on “Viagra Boys “Welfare Jazz” (2021)

Leave a Reply to Jim Norris Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: