Massachusetts-based band Twig extol “Nude Beaches” (& Sweden) on surfy banger w/undercurrents of longing, wry humor

Born in Sweden
I was almost
A real European” — TWIG

Words below by Jason Lee

First, a geography lesson. Sweden is roughly the size of California. Yet its total population (approx. 10 mil) is less than that of the LA metro area (approx. 12 mil). This means that Swedes have lots of room for cavorting. And one place Swedes are known to cavort is on nude beaches.

A country with a notoriously relaxed attitude to baring it all, it’s no wonder the first-ever male full-frontal nudity to appear on non-porno theater cinema screens in North America was in the Swedish import film I Am Curious (Yellow) which caused a sensation and topped the US box office for two weeks in late 1969.

Currently, Sweden is said to have around 70 nude beaches (source: World Beach Guide). That’s roughly one nude beach for every 143,000 Swedes.

If New York City were to have this same proportion of nude beaches to residents there’d be 60 nude beaches in the city which if you were to squeeze this number of clothing-optional beaches into the borough of Manhattan (the other four would surely know better) all situated on the East River it’d mean a nude beach every five blocks and while this may sound idyllic on the face of it (tho’ you wouldn’t be looking at anyone’s faces, we know our readership) most those “beaches” would be tiny patches of scrubby land hemmed in by the smog-choked FDR Drive which would be anything but, plus, considering that 99% of bodies in the East River at any given time are either dead people or people otherwise direly in need of help it’d be a less than ideal situation in reality.

Obviously, you’re better off going to Sweden.

Singer Karina Lagstrom clearly knows all this. And not only does she know it but she was born in Sweden, assuming the lyrics to “Nude Beaches” are to be believed. “Nude Beaches” is song is by a band called Twig. Twig are a self-described four-piece heavy rock band from Middleton, Massachusetts, which we assume is somewhere near Boston (but we’re not that strong on geography) which is interesting seeing as I Am Curious (Yellow) was banned in Boston in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. But we digress.

According to the band’s promotional materials, Karina herself spent her formative years south of Boston and grew up on classic rock (Zep, etc.) and grunge (e.g. Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Tad or so we’d like to think re: the latter) with Amy Lee (great last name!) from Evanescence being a particular influence on her vocal style, soon enough teaching herself to play guitar then singing/playing in bands around the South Shore from age 16 (“as soon as I could drive myself to band auditions!”) before joining forces with Twig, with contemporary influences including Amyl and the Sniffers, Mannequin Pussy, Wolf Alice, Starcrawler, and the Side Eyes.

As for Twig guitarist Danny Norwood, he cites influences ranging from Freddie King to Eddie Van Halen and still goes to the same guitar teacher he started with at age 12. After forces with bassist Joe Florence who himself is into Sabbath, Maiden, Purple—surely you don’t need their first names—it was a couple years later before they recruited Karina and drummer Justin Palla, one of Joe’s longtime buddies, who joined when Twig’s previous drummer met with a mysterious gardening accident and whose playing is indebted to well-regarded sticksters such as Mitch Mitchell (Hendrix Experience), Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Brad Wilk (Rage/Audioslave), and Chris Hakius (OM, Sleep).

Anyway the band sound they’re from Mass which isn’t a bad thing in our book despite us being typical NYC elitist douchbags cuz when we think MA we think classic rock/hard rock from the ‘70s and ‘80s (e.g, Aerosmith, Billy Squire, Extreme and, um, Boston) and titans of ‘90s/aughts alternative rock like Morphine, Blake Babies, Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, Rob Zombie, and Godsmack…

…and whereas the sound of Twig’s 2020 self-titled EP was very much in the classic rock/hard rock vein, their 2023 single “Ain’t No 2.0” and this year’s “Nude Beaches” cross the two streams described above with the latter something like a mashup of one of the Pixies’ more surf-inclined numbers (e.g., “Velouria”) with Dick Dale-worthy double picking no less and the more meat ’n’ potatoes “rawk music” that’ll get you gigs on the Massachusetts roadhouse circuit we’re guessing \m/…

…plus it’s got some witty lyrics too (“count me in / what will I wear though?”) that’re emotionally resonant at the same time cuz who hasn’t ever longed for the comforts of home even (or especially) if you haven’t got one anymore and even (or especially) if the very notion of “home” itself is illusory at least to some extent, an imaginary home viewed through blue-and-yellow tinted spectacles that you may’ve had under different circumstances (“far away / but so close“) and thoughts of “the road not taken” in general where you could’ve been “screaming in the country fields / wild as an animal / would’ve been feral in Grankulla” so in other words SWEDEN but instead you’ve “gone soft” and “been so lost” with “nowhere left to go” but hey you made your choices…

…which speaking again of classic rock—tho’ more in the realm of glam than metal—“Nude Beaches” reminds us in a way David Bowie’s “Drive-In Saturday”where the red-mulleted, lightening-eyed one peers into the post-apocolyptic future of 2033 with nuclear fallout having made humanity’s brains and genitals both go soft and where the only way they can learn to make love again is by watching films of how it used to be done all but cut off from their own natural animal instincts which doesn’t sound so far off from 2024 come to think of it with the Lad Insane looking back with nostalgia to a past they never knew directly…

….and could it be mere coincidence that Karina mentions “no screens” in her Swedish beach alterna-world paradise and likewise looks back at a long-gone never-known past (hey it’s a theory anyway) nor that Bowie name checks famous ’60s British fashion icon Twiggy in “Drive-In Saturday” re-dubbed “Twig the Wonder Kid”—a nom de modeling in reference to her slender frame—and you don’t have to squint too hard to see a certain resemblance between Twig’s Karina Lagstrom and Twiggy so anyway whether or not one gives credence to these mystical convergences we advocate checking out “Nude Beaches” whether the song or the real thing it may even be worth a trip to Boston or catch ’em right here in NYC in June…

TWIG’s next show takes place on May 15th in Boston, then they’ll be playing two shows in Brooklyn the following month–June 21st at First Live & June 23rd at Hart Bar

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