With what passes for rock and roll nowadays, who could really blame those that say the genre is dead or dying? But if you scratch just a little bit deeper, you’ll find there is a whole new generation of artists well versed in the finer points of classic rock, penning brand new messages in fifty year old ink. Greta Van Fleet may have garnered the lion’s share of hedgerow bustling from the mainstream, but there was a bumper crop of retro-leaning acts in 2018 proving there will always be plenty of room for bands that want to wrap themselves in velvets and party like it’s 1974. It was tough to whittle the whole year down to ten releases, and even tougher to rank them. But after countless hours of analysis, these are the best things I heard this year; if you don’t think they make ‘em like they used to, you need to check this shit out.
After releasing one of 2018’s finest hunks of retro-rock (the downright dazzling Ain’t No Shame), Norwegian flower-power trio Friendship are kicking off the new year with the re-release of their 2012 debut single. Both “Alpha Male” and its corresponding b-side “Give It Time” show that the band’s knack for funky and fluid, sexy and soulful sunshine rock was in place from the start, whip-tight power-pop filtered through a kaleidoscopic lens of swaggering psychedelia.
Ain’t No Shame, the eagerly anticipated second full-length from Norwegian trio Friendship, should be classified as a mood-enhancing substance. The first time I heard it, it pulled me out of the kind of piss-poor headspace that can only come from five hours cooped up in a car with two cranky children and an more than exasperated spouse. I was actually a little nervous to hit play that first time, for fear that my mental and physical exhaustion might negatively color my feeling toward the material. But by the end of the Monkees-and-Cream-playing-Cheap Trick opener “Are You Ready,” I was grinning ear to ear. Somewhere in the middle of the jazzy delight “Harmony Turns to Sound,” my dopey grin turned to slack-jawed awe. And within three seconds of the stomping funk-rock romp “Fire,” I actually laughed out loud from the combination of amazement and joy. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face and a sense of contentment in my heart, and I have Fredrik Skalstad (drums & lead vocals), Martin Morland (bass), and Sander Eriksen Nordahl (guitar) (along with their litany of guest musicians) to thank for that. It brought me up when I was down, and there’s not too many higher accolades than that.
Four years after recording their self-titled debut, Norwegian retro-psych trio Friendship is poised to release their sophomore effort, the intoxicatingly shimmery Ain’t No Shame. It’s a forty-minute smile, a heartfelt and exquisitely crafted work that should appeal equally to fans of Cream and Kadavar, of Earth, Wind, & Fire and Grand Funk Railroad, and we here at Metal Nexus are pleased and proud to offer you an exclusive streaming premiere of the album’s infectiously swinging title track.