HANK SUNDOWN AND THE ROARING CASCADES - WE CAME HERE TO ROCK
Hank Sundown and the Roaring Cascades, ‘We Came Here to Rock’
Released: August 26th 2022
Reviewed by Kate, 20th October 2022
Hank Sundown and the Roaring Cascades are:
Arild Rønes AKA Hank Sundown - vocals, (mostly rhythm) guitar
Christopher Johansen - lead guitar, vocals
Ole Evensen - bass, backing vocals
Petter Skoglund - drums
Somewhere, deep in the forests of Norway, you won’t hear the sounds of a bear grumbling or rain gently pattering on leaves. In fact, what you’ll hear is some brilliant, self-aware, hoppin’ and boppin’ Teddy Boy revival courtesy of Hank Sundown and the Roaring Cascades…‘The music is pure rock & roll, with a few detours to blues and country music. They are heavily influenced by bands like Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers, Teencats and Shotgun [,b]ut also [by] the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis’, and the era of the Ted is not over while these guys are playing! With multiple millions of Spotify streams under their belt and a huge following among the rockabillies of Sweden, this band is a cult force. This eighth album was mixed and engineered by Sundown himself and is an absolute nostalgic delight. Even if Teddy Boy music isn’t quite your cup of rockabilly tea (and, if you haven’t guessed by my reviews, my taste is usually characterised as ‘songs about dead cowboys’), this record will be at the top of your rotation for a long time.
We Came Here to Rock - An absolutely top party song. ‘We came here to rock, we came here to roll, we came here to do the Teddy Boy stroll’ sings Hank, surely with a smile on his face because this is a really, really happy song about having a good time with your friends on a night out, and surely we need more of those in the world. I am a huge fan of the subtle piano trickling through in the background after the chorus and Ole’s bass is the engine at the front of this rockin’ locomotive.
Wild Rooster - A darker, more focused number about being a metaphorical aggressive chicken. Honestly, it takes a special kind of singer to put a growl on the line ‘coo-coo-cachoo’ and make it work without a descent into comedy, and Hank pulls it off with gusto. Along with Christopher’s smoking mini-solo, the bass is the star on this song and gives the
No Teddy Girls - One of the things that really endeared this band to me is how wonderfully self-aware their lyrics are. Yes, they know that there is always a slight ridiculous side to the scene, but they embrace it and run with it. This song tells the age-old relatable story of being the only rockabilly you know, but despite the loneliness our speaker refuses to compromise as he ‘can’t be with a girl who says that Cavan is a no’. It’s a fun little song that messes with the trope of the lonesome country man and drops in a jaunty rhythm and swells on the key changes.
Teddy Boy Juvenile - This song must be semi-autobiographical at least, telling the tale of a young man who refuses to wear corduroy and instead follows his dreams to become a rock n roll star. It’s another really fun one and we get these live vocal flourishes to remind us how well this one is going to go down live.
Tougher than the Rest - one of my favourite songs on the album about getting older in the scene and this dreamy, surfy, Cramps-y guitar underlines the stomping rhythm. Combined with a bit of a snarling vocal and a southern drawl this song presents a whole new side to the band.
Across My Heart - Another favourite of mine and the antidote to all the cutesy tattoo-as-a-symbol-for-true-love songs. It’s a ‘permanent reminder of my stupidity’ laughs Hank over a lovely piano line and you can just tell they had fun writing this deceptively simple song that’ll get the crowd dancing and sharing a collective joke.
I Still Got Rock n Roll - No matter the hardship, we’ve always got our music as a comfort, and the swoops and loops of Christopher’s guitar temper the list of Hank’s hardships through which rock n roll has supported him. It’s such a wonderful quality in a song to take a somewhat sad theme and turn it into an upbeat country tune!
Teddy Boy - It’s a manifesto that’s dying for a cover by the Polecats, and this singalong backing vocals make this uptempo number an instant hit. The guitar has shades of Bill Haley if he lived in this century, and the simple but effective chorus is going to be huge at live shows.
Rocker Around the Clock - Another old man song, which makes me wonder if Ted ages are counted on a different scale like ‘dog years’. It is so, so surfy and it’s just made to inspire dance-offs in the audience.
I’m a Ted - A stalking, Stray Cats baseline brings us into the tougher-than-tough world of the Teds, and the light touch of the guitar adds a layer of complexity to this sing-along number. This tune has this satisfying buildup and fadeout which makes it seems like a snapshot into a subculture.
Please Mr Copper - I do have a weakness for international bands that use distinctively British slang (Rancid’s use of ‘you’ll be gone in a sec’ during Django, for instance), and there’s something amazing in this acknowledgement of the britishness of being a Ted in this song. It fades in perfectly after I’m A Ted to build a mini-storyline, and it’s another fun and fast number that uses a relatable incident in the life of a Ted as it’s basis without making it mundane.
56 Chevy - one for all the ‘old car guys’ in their listenership, and as Reverend Horton Heat well knows, we always need more old songs, especially when they’re as country as this one. The control and restraint on the rhythm almost give us the noise of the tyres on a gravel road and the distorted long guitar strains make this a song dying for a retro video.
We Are Still Crazy - Back on this theme of being an older guy who’s Ted until death, this song is oddly gentle and smooth compared to some of the faster numbers on the record, but I love the tone of acceptance and warmth in this tune.
So Long - What a great title for the last song on the record…and it’s absolutely stunning. It’d mix perfectly with Crazy Cavan’s ‘My Little Sister’s Gotta Motorbike’ but with some extra shades of Eddie Cochran thrown in, and fits perfectly with the subplot of romantic frustration on this record (the ‘So Long’ is directed to a girlfriend who revealed late in the relationship that she did not like Rock n Roll or Gretsch guitars). It’s a really strong, really fifties track that sends the crowd off on a high note.
Hank Sundown and the Roaring Cascades are a band that really deserve their success and their blend of really quality guitar, strutting rhythm and self-aware lyrics explains why they’re huge in Scandinavia. They’re serious about their Teddy Boy identity, but simultaneously don’t take it too seriously either, adding a dash of realism and humour into their timeless music. This album is a great place to start with their back catalogue and the great part Is that it’s easy to work backwards and enjoy a metaphorical journey through the Norwegian woods via Memphis, Tennessee