Martin Karlsson’s Degradation – “Too Far Gone”/ “Barbwire (Couldn’t Keep Me Away)” (Latta Bordor Records)

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Martin Karlsson’s Degradation’s debut 7″ is a nice surprise for fans of garage-pop and proto-punk. On “Too Far Gone”, the Swedish group sounds as if they’re cut from the same cloth as those late-’70s UK groups that straddled the line between power-pop or pub rock and punk rock. It’s a fun song with a helluva catchy chorus, but Martin Karlsson’s Thunders-meets-Bators vocal – part drunken sneer, part heart-on-sleeve tough posture – is what gives it a little extra edge. For a guy whose main gig is drumming for garage rock group The Strollers, Karlsson is a natural on the mic. The B-side, “Barbwire (Couldn’t Keep Me Away)”, is a ballad for wounded souls, where Karlsson and team discover that you can in fact put your arms around a memory. As with the A-side, the band loves their choruses big and oft-repeated. Normally that might get annoying, but it all works thanks to a winning combination of simplicity, attitude, and what sounds like a cowbell. More please.