Veni Vidi Vicious

Here’s a riddle: What five-member music group dresses New Wave and plays ‘50s rock/ ‘60s garage rock/ and ‘70s punk at the same time? The answer is the Hives, perhaps the greatest punk export ever out of the small industrial town of Fagersta, Sweden. Led by the frenetic vocals of Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist (part Iggy Pop, part Alice Cooper), the Hives have a sound that is bombastic and raw (like Rocket from the Crypt stuck on 78 r.p.m.)—plenty of crisp electric guitar at break-neck speed. Short anthems like "Die, All Right!," "Supply and Demand" and "Statecontrol" cover the usual punk themes of frustration with The Man or being dumped by a girl "for occupying her time/ I asked her why and what was next in line/ She said "Shiny hair that’s my life ambition/ but I’ll devote my time to a new omission/ the rizzle-razzle kitsch of paranoid city." At a time when young American bands try to recapture the glory of golden days by copying well-worn formulas in an attempt to "save rock ‘n’ roll" other countries are proving that the spirit of rock is universal and nobody really cares about America’s claim to the throne. Some of them, like the Hives, just kick ass and drop the mic.