Strawberry Weed


    In a way, Sweden’s Caesars paved the way for the likes of Yael Naim, the Ting Tings, and CSS. The power-poppers’ single “Jerk It Out” was featured in the first iPod shuffle commercial, setting the precedent for marginally obscure bands to vault to "marginally recognized" status via iTunes sales.


    For Caesars, the iTunes ad has (until now) been a pinnacle they haven’t even attempted to top. Instead of quickly trotting out an album of “Jerk It Out” retreads in short order, the band went on hiatus after guitarist Joakim Ahlund’s electronica side-project, Teddybears, took off. Strawberry Weed  is the band’s first in more than three years.


    The iPod commercial gave them some commercial viability in 2005, but the band have always been late to the party as far as their sound goes. Riding on the coattails of the garage rock revival in ’03, Astralwerks trotted out a random collection of singles from Caesars first album and hoped people wouldn’t notice they were really a second (or third)-rate Hives. Strawberry Weed does little to dispel this notion. Most of the album (especially tracks like “Stuck With You,” “Waking Up,” “Up All Night,” and “Crystal”) plays like garage rock G-sides that the bands the Caesars are aping (like the Kinks, the Who, and 13th Floor Elevators) recorded and tossed out.


    As for the rest of the album: It plays like attempts at writing backing music for Target commercials. You can’t really blame Caesars for the fact that Nuggets-style rock has resurfaced as a way to sell everything from toilet paper, to beer, to tampons, but a lot of the songs would work best with accompanying videos of people conspicuously consuming crap. “Boo Boo Goo Goo”: car insurance. “No Tomorrow”: Heineken. “New Breed”: Rogaine.


    Not that there’s anything wrong with songs being used in commercials; it’s a good way for bands to augment their income in times of economic downturn. The problem is that making songs that are fit for beer commercials makes for an atrocious album full of half-baked ideas that are only good for 30 seconds of enjoyment. Strawberry Weed: coming to a television near you.