If people from Sweden can master North American games like hockey why canít they master our music as well? A group of 4 guys called Brickyard from northern Sweden are out to do just that. They lay down some dirty blues and boogie on their sophomore CD called Exit: Bluesland.
The blues boogie woogie laden disc kicks off with "Checked Out At Six" with its Johnnie Johnson influenced keyboards. The trackís guitar solo features some classic Chuck Berry licks. The swing craze surfaces with "Jr. Stomp" featuring more fine tingling of the ivories. "Time To Move On" has a real blues bar groove to it. The discís longest track, "Blues All Around" is used to showcase the guitar talents of Orjan Maki and piano works of Martin Larsson. Orjanís playing on the tune strays into rock and roll but stays true to the blues.
The blues-rock rich "Donít Bet" continues and it is a nice segue. Some acoustic slide takes over on "Get Me My Suitcase." This heavily Delta blues based tune must surely melt a little northern Sweden snow when performed live. The journey to the Delta continues with "Out On The Road" but it seems to lack the energy of its predecessor. Straight back into the Texas blues with "Voodoo Woman." The track features guitar work very reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan. More Texas rockín blues boogie woogie, this time complete with slide guitar on "Mamaís Got A Son." "When Youíre Gone" features one of the CDs many catchy riffs. The disc wraps up with an instrumental called "Swing for B-O" which presents the jazzy side of swing.
Brickyard proves to be a very versatile band with their second release. A full cross section of various blues styles such as: Texas blues, Delta blues, swing and rock and blues is well represented. Who is this CD for? Thatís easy Ė blues guitar, blues boogie woogie piano and roadhouse blues fans. The vocals are clear and easily understood (given the fact that English isnít the bands first language) but they could be a bit stronger. Many pictures of the band in the studio are featured in the CDís liner in addition to the songís lyrics. The CD features 13 very solid originals, quite an accomplishment in itself as most new bands rely heavily on the safety of covers. Most impressive is the guitar and keyboard work.
The band bases itself in a tiny town called Pajala which is located 50 miles above the Arctic Circle! They formed in 1988 and claim to have "our roots buried deep down in a huge pile of snow". "It seems the leap from 110 degrees out in the American cotton fields to minus 40 and tons of snow in northern Sweden is shorter than you would expect". Exit: Bluesland proves just that.
Brickyard does not break any new ground musically on this disc. However they do prove that there are no borders when it comes to the blues. If you are looking for some superb roadhouse blues, then this disc is for you.
For CDs, booking and information, write to: Brickyard, Tornedalsvagen 1, 98431 Pajala, Sweden. Tel +46 (0) 978 10742.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.