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Man Up

The Blue Van

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Album Review

Danish rockers the Blue Van do rock star swagger better than they do music, but on their third album, Man Up, they've gotten just good enough at writing tunes and making them stick in the studio that their attitude sounds reasonably plausible rather than just wishful thinking. Unlike many of their brethren in the Netherlands, the Blue Van seem to have their feet planted in '70s hard rock rather than garage rock or punk, but guitarist and singer Steffen Westmark lacks the epic style to conjure up the thunder of a Jimmy Page or the solid crunch to be a riff monster like Angus Young. But on Man Up, Westmark's lean, wiry tone has gained enough personality to give the songs some welcome melodic weight, and the tunes are stronger and catchier on this album. The first four tracks kick off Man Up in grand and lively style, and though the album never quite regains the same momentum after slowing down for the Zep-influenced "Lay Me Down and Die," Westmark lets loose enough sweat and smirk to keep the music moving, and drummer Per M. Jorgenson and bassist Allan F. Villadsen back him up with solid, no-frills rhythms (through keyboard man Søren V. Christensen is barely audible in much of the mix). There's an understated snarky wit running through Man Up that makes this album feel more like a parody of hard rock than the real thing (especially given the band's lack of guitar heroics), but it's close enough to the mark to seem like a satire executed out of love of the form, and when the Blue Van hit fourth gear, you'd believe they could pull off a real hard rock epic if they put their minds to it.

Customer Reviews

A glass of water in the desert of crap

This album is refreshing in its homage to organic blues/rock and roll. Though the organ is missed to a point, this throw back to roots and a revisit of The Blue Vans original sound is refreshing. Taking it to the next level. Never heard Danish rap before and liked the incorporation of it in "I'm a Man" and Silly Boy is just fantastic. This band is exploring new avenues while staying true to their sound. An album that holds up in a collection which can and should include "Black Betty". Well done I say.

Lovin the old art of rolling groove

I loved the art of rolling album, but did not like dear independence. This album seems to be goin back to the old style of rock they had on their first album which is amazing. But I miss the organ too! :(

Overall, a fantastic album.

I was introduced to The Blue Van with Man Up, so it didn't bother me at all that the band's sound had changed in the making of this album. I was attracted to the somewhat bluesy-rock sound that still retained a strong alternative beat that other modern bands have. After buying the album and listening to it quite a bit, I decided to check out The Blue Van's other albums, and I was not disappointed at all. I'll admit that there is a bit of a difference in sound, with Man Up having a bit more pop and alternative influences, while Dear Independence and The Art of Rolling have a more of a straight blues-rock sound. However, I wouldn't call the change "different," so much as "diverse." The Blue Van may have a changed their sound a bit, but I think anyone who says this album is "bad" just because of the change just isn't open to new ideas, even if they're good ones.

Biography

Formed: Broenderslev, Denmark

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Growing up in rural Broenderslev, Denmark, Steffen Westmark (vocals/guitars), Søren V. Christensen (Hammond organ), Allan F. Villadsen, and Per M. Jorgenson (drums) were inspired by the classics — Cream, Kinks, Pretty Things, Them — and they used that hard R&B, primal rock influence to drive the revivalist sound of the Blue Van. The combo moved to Copenhagen in 2003 and scored gigs at rock festivals like Spot 9 and Roskilde. That exposure helped land them a deal, and a five-song EP...
Full Bio
Man Up, The Blue Van
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