Day 1: Mando Diao- Ode to Ochrasy
- Welcome Home Luc Robitaille (4:33)
- Killer Kaczynski (2:31)
- Long Before Rock ‘n’ Roll (2:49)
- The Wildfire (If It Was True) (4:25)
- You Don’t Understand Me (4:09)
- Tony Zoulias (Lustful Life) (3:22)
- Amsterdam (3:23)
- TV & Me (3:46)
- Josephine (2:40)
- The New Boy (3:22)
- Morning Paper Dirt (2:30)
- Good Morning, Herr Horst (1:57)
- Song for Aberdeen (3:22)
- Ochrasy (3:17)
So the very first album for the project will be Mando Diao’s third studio album, Ode to Ochrasy. Ode to Ochrasy, was released in 2006 in Sweden (2007 in the United Kingdom and the United States) to great fanfare from the international music press. Does it hold up to the rave reviews? Let us find out.
Ode to Ochrasy is a wee bit of departure from 2004’s Hurricane Bar. Hurricane Bar was a lot more edgier and rougher sounding in the twin-guitar, whereas Ode to Ochrasy slows down and adds strings, brass, and woodwinds. Like any Mando Diao album, Ode to Ochrasy is split between Björn Dixgård and Gustaf Norén, the two principle songwriters. That is one of the best features of any Mando Diao album is that you almost get two different albums in one since the album is split between Dixgård and Norén. You get two different lyrical approaches within Ode to Ochrasy from Dixgård and Norén.
The themes of Ode to Ochrasy are from band’s experiences on the road, while supporting their critically acclaimed second album, Hurricane Bar. The band was most taken by ochrasy a term which they made up for those wee hours of the night, after the show, post-afterparty, before the start of the next day. It is a place and a state of mind somewhere between dream and reality.
Track by Track
Ode to Ochrasy starts out with the churning guitar and vocals of Norén in “Welcome Home Luc Robitaille”. The song, reminisces of Norén’s tough childhood through the symbol of hockey cards, most notably Luc Robitaille.
Track number 2, “Killer Kaczynski” steals it’s name from real life Unabomber. Awkward. But the story behind the fast paced 2 minute 32 second song, is supposedly about how a concert-goer approached the band backstage and talked about how he was going to blow up embassies. So they did what any normal band would do… write a song about him.
Track number three, “Long Before Rock and Roll” features the dual-guitar attack of Dixgård and Norén as well as the dual-vocals of the two songwriters. The song fuses the innuendo of sex and the innocence of the era before rock and roll in the 50’s and 60’s.
Track 4 and my personal favorite Mando Diao song (not just from this album, but ever), “The Wildfire (If It Was True)” takes a different approach from the previous tracks. Whereas the previous tracks were harder and rougher, The Wildfire slows it down and adds a new element: brass. The trumpets during the song adds a beautiful touch to Norén’s anthem to relationships, hanging out, and escapism.
Track 5, “You Don’t Understand Me” may just be the one the best songs to break up to. The outro to the song starts with Dixgård singing softly “and I will always be the one that holds you in the end…” and gets louder and louder until it reaches the end. Song seemingly shines a light on what seems to be a failed relationship.
“Tony Zoulias (Lustful Life)” aka track 6 takes the awkward lead in from last few seconds of piano on “You Don’t Understand Me”. Norén belting out the vocals and riffs on guitar about a old friend of his that is in jail now. Gustaf makes a strange reference to the movie Scarface in the bridge in the “6 million ways to die, choose one. 6000 ways to lie… say hello to my little friend!” after which Norén goes into a furious solo.
“Amsterdam”, track 7 is probably the weakest song in the album. Dubbed the “ghost song” by Björn, it has that kind of spooky feeling. It was about a trip to the two songwriters took to Amsterdam… let me post a interview that explains it better than I ever could….
GUSTAF: “It’s about an experience me and Bjorn had in Amsterdam. . . It’s uhhhh, not for children, not even for adults. . . it’s a very frightening story, but it’s all there on the album, I don’t want to give out any details. It was the best night and the worst night of my life”
Interviewer: “How did it end. . .?”
BJORN: “It ended up with me phoning God”
INTERVIEWER: “what did he say?”
BJORN: “I can’t tell you. But, it was a lie.”
“TV & Me”, track 8 tells of the horrors of being sucked into the world of television. The song fuses a mix of that same garage rock that makes Mando Diao with danceabilty. The song has a funky beat to it… an odd danceable song.
“Josephine”, track 9 is part of a Mando Diao staple: write a song about some girl/woman. It is a slower paced song when compared to the earlier tracks. Seemingly, Dixgård sings about a Swedish “junkie” woman living in London. Strange concept… writing a song about a girl, but it is one of those thing Mando Diao does on every album.
Track 10, “The New Boy” is a new direction for the band. It is bittersweet lyrics tell the tale of how Gustaf met a girl while on tour in the United States. She was abused and hit by her boyfriend but couldn’t break up with him because she loved him so much. It depressed Gustaf to see that so he wrote the song to show how good it could have been with this girl and her boyfriend. He made up another reality through song instead of getting sad about the real situation. It adds a new dimension to Mando Diao’s sound: orchestration.
“Morning Paper Dirt” or track 11, seemingly tells the tale of the problems that fame brings and standing by each other. The sound goes back to the dual-guitar attack and the rough vocals of Norén.
“Good Morning, Herr Horst” the third to last song on Ode to Ochrasy and track 12 adds a bit of country twang to the albums already eclectic mix of garage rock, britpop sneer and sass, and hard rock. It is the shortest of the songs on the album at 117 seconds long (1 minute 57 seconds). It is the tale of a well known homeless man “Horst” who lives in Germany.
The second to last song, “Song for Aberdeen” opens with what seems to be a party of sorts, with Mats Björke wailing away on the keys. As Norén once said live in concert “we always wanted to write a song about Aberdeen, man.” One of the better songs on Ode to Ochrasy complete with a Mr. T reference thrown in for good luck: “Cause everybody pity the fool.”
The 14th and final song, is the title of the album: “Ochrasy”. Ochrasy is a made term by Dixgård that describes the hours between the end of a gig and sunrise, a bleak, bleary world of late night and bars full of strange characters. The song slows it way down and is a lot calmer in comparison to the rest of album. The whistling in the interlude adds a beautiful touch. But the live version sometimes features the drums instead of the whistling.
Thoughts on Ode to Ochrasy
No one song on this album is the same and each one has a unique sound. The album has stated previously is almost split into two different albums half of the songs being sung by Björn and the other half being sung by Gustaf. You get two different experiences with the two. That said, Ode to Ochrasy is a departure from their original roots in the edgy, sneer, and sass… but it’s a good thing. Though the album is a wee bit of a awkward step forward compared to Hurricane Bar before it and their debut album Bring ‘Em In. But it is a necessary one. The album still contains the essence of Mando Diao: the stylish vitriol, catchy and often edgy riffs, wit, and energy.
While definitely a departure from their first two albums, Mando Diao fails to disappoint with Ode to Ochrasy. While no where near perfect, it’s departure from their roots signals a new phase for Mando Diao. Ode to Ochrasy has a unique sound and experience. But it does of course, have it’s flaws of course. Altogether though, Ode to Ochrasy is a very good album.
Suggestion: listen to the live versions of songs from this album after listening to the studio versions.