Huckleberry Swedes
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Huckleberry Swedes

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Band Americana Soul


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"Rhythms Magazine"

I've been fortunate enough to catch Adelaide outfit Huckleberry Swedes a few times in the past few years, after so many reliable sources had recommended them. So the lead up to this release, the band's debut album, has been one of anticipation for myself and I'm sure for others. The impression I attained from seeing and reading about the band, their success at Tamworth and their association with Bill Chambers (who often sits in with the group) was one of a more traditional country outfit. However, Suburban Dreaming arrives very much electrified, country in the same vein as '70's Rolling Stones, The Faces, or The Black Crowes, rolling along with classic blues, soul and r&b influences popping out everywhere. Produced by Midnight Oil guitarist Jim Moginie and engineered by a live-in-a-room guru Mick Wordley, Suburban Dreaming is rich in sound and vitality, great guitar tones and vintage electric pianos help to colour the songs. But, beside Troy Loakes' incredible voice - he could easily take up a career as a white soul singer if the band ever falls - it's the songs themselves that take the spotlight in Suburban Dreaming. It's one of those great albums where every song reminds you a little bit of a classic, but not enough so that you can actually pinpoint which classic. As the 12 tracks unravel, highlights just keep emerging - from the slow building drama of 'Will My Heart Stay on Track', to the sunny soul/pop of 'Small Cage Big Land' and 'We Farm Our Love, to the best rock song The Black Crowes never recorded 'Wild Peach Pie'. It's a mighty debut and one that should gain the Swedes the recognition they deserve as one of the country's most promising roots rock bands. - Martin Jones, Rhythms Magazine, May 2009

"Independent Weekly"

I have long been an admirer of the Adelaidean “Swedes”, and that admiration is further swelled by their first full-length album, Suburban Dreaming, produced by Midnight Oil's Jim Maginie. The Swedes have delivered on their early promise in a way that shatters the mythology of the local music scene being little more than two-chord primal scream. Blessed with an innate ability to play a vast range of (non-standard) instruments, as well as a vocalist in the Young/Kelly ilk and, more importantly, lyrics that are both audible and understandable, the Swedes’ Suburban Dreaming should certainly make an impact locally and nationally. If it doesn’t, I'll take to eating their God-awful vegetable namesake three times a week. Lyrically resonant of John Cougar in his Paper On Fire days, Suburban Dreaming possesses that quintessential American folk/blues appeal, minus the gooey butterscotch sauce. Here, it is served up a tad more ochre and corrugated iron bluesy, which takes it out of the heartland and definitely into the aridness of our dusty backyard. Tracks like “Dust Storm Falling”, “My Luck is Changing”, and the rootsy “Somewhere By Sundown” afford this album an eerie, melodic hook, more reminiscent of early Neil Young productions than anything else produced locally. With an album that is excellently packaged, written, produced and performed, the Swedes have not only broken through the wall of sound that is pub bash and thrash for no other sake than white noise, they have also given us dust-bowl refugees an album and band we can justifiably recognise and laud as our own, without having to go deaf into the bargain. - TERI LOUISE KELLY, Independent Weekly May 2009

"SUburban Dreaming - John Carver"

“It has simply been too long that we have had to wait for the debut album from Adelaide band Huckleberry Swedes. We’ve always expected the album would be good and there is no doubting it certainly is! Mixing alt. country with straight ahead rock, the album spans many moods and styles and often bears comparison with the Americana of Ryan Adams. In fact lead-singer Troy Loakes’ voice often evokes Adams’ looseness before strutting down new roads altogether, establishing benchmarks of his own. No track demonstrates this more than My Luck Is Changing which crosses soul and rock and roll with consummate ease and channels early Rod Stewart. The band is always tight and the addition of Bill Chambers on some of the tracks shows they are already a respected force. This album crackles and sparks like a wall of catherine wheels!”
- John Carver, Presenter PBS Radio, Melb, May 2009

"Radio National"

Suburban Dreaming by Adelaide group the Huckleberry Swedes is a startlingly confident and realised debut album of country-flavoured roots rock.
Troy 'The Colonel' Loakes plays the guitars, writes all the songs and sings in an exciting, celebratory voice that lifts the spirit. Midnight Oil's Jim Moginie played piano, produced, recorded and mixed it and Bill Chambers adds some tasty lap steel. Not since Cold Chisel has a group come roaring out of South Australia with such a powerful, originally written crop of roots rock. - Lucky Oceans : Radio National May 2009

"Sunday Telegraph"

Suburban Dreaming is the debut fulllength album from the Adelaide-based Huckleberry Swedes, who were born out of the ashes of alt-country duo Canvas. It’s a blues and soul take on the country sound, and this five-piece do it well, particularly singer Troy Loakes. Stand-out tracks include the catchy Dust Storms Falling, the melancholic musings of Will My Heart Stay On Track and the bluesrock sound of My Luck Is Changing. Many of the tracks on this record will stay in your head for hour - Jonathon Moran : THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH May 17, 2009

"Sunday Mail"

In short: Rockin' Roots with a story to tell.

Roots rockers Huckleberry Swedes have put their best feet forward with this 12-track set.
After gaining a good rep as hard working entertainers (and Bill Chambers backing band when he's in town), the SA based, festival-seasoned act delivers souped up and slaved over Australiana alternating between rock out and held-back.
Vocalist Troy Loakes leads the charge. The Swedes strengths show best on beauties such as the cleverly restrained anguish of "The Rise And Fall", suprisingly bluesy "My Luck is Changing" heart busted mandolin ballad "Somewhere By Sundown", and prove a dab hand at upbeat country pop with "Small Cage Big Land".
They have the guiding hand of Midnight Oil's Jim Moginie as producer and guest musician. The sound of these ragged rocking storytellers scrubs up handsomely. - Paul Nassari - Sunday Mail 17th May 09

"Huckleberry Swedes"

Things have been pretty busy of late for local alt-country/ roots act Huckleberry Swedes. After recently wrapping up the recording of their debut album, which lead guitarist Mark Elberg says is "pretty much mixed and mastered - we're just doing artwork and figuring out exactly how we're gonna present it" - they embarked on an epic tour that is entirely in keeping with their name.

"Yeah, that was amazing, it was such a good trip - we did five and a half thousand K's all together with the band, so the harmonies are really good 'cause we were singing all day in the van together," Elberg laughs. "That's really one of our big focuses, is the voices and the lyrics and the harmonies, and we really try to present the songs themselves in their best light, and that's what the band's all about, really."

While the band have played festivals like Byron Bay's East Coast Blues & Roots and the Apollo Bay festival this year, this most recent tour took them to a rather different gathering in the Gympie Muster,

"It was great, some of the country fans are really coming across," the laid-back guitarist enthuses. "Whereas a few years ago people were really closed to anything except your real stock standard country two and four stuff, now there's a stage dedicated up at the Gympie festival to the alt-country, roots style music. We were sharing a stage with people like Kev Bennett and the Brewster Brothers and King Curly and Creole bands and stuff, and people are really starting to come and have a look at stuff at those festivals, so it's a really good atmosphere and it's just broadening a little bit, the country scene, I reckon."

It's good to hear that while many rock and indie fans still think of "country" as a dirty word, the audiences at Gympie were willing to keep an open mind, because, as Elberg explains, "I'd by no means call us a country band; we're really quite far removed from it." He goes even further, suggesting they don't even fit into the alt-country category and instead offering another tag.

"It's almost a soul band, what we're doing, with the way that the songs are treated, with the grooves that we get and the harmonies and stuff, so the alt-country soul sort of swings over and basically probably the best description is "roots" in the end... I mean, instrument-wise we've got the banjos and the mandolins, but I'd by no means say that we're classically doing those in the traditional styles, that's for sure."

It's fortunate, then, that the Semaphore Music Festival, held over the Labour Day long weekend in October, describes its diverse line-up as alt-country, roots and blues, and Elberg is pretty excited about the acts they have lined up over the four days. "Each day seems to have a real theme running through it, you know - it's a rockfest on Monday with Southpoor and them, then on Sunday with the Yearlings it's almost like a cool country feel, not really in your face kind of stuff... it should be a bloody good weekend."

Alexis Buxton-Collins

The Huckleberry Swedes play at the Semaphore Worker's Club on Sunday 5 October as part of the Semaphore Music Festival. - DB Magazine

"We Liked It And You Will Too (AKA Album of the Fortnight)"

Huckleberry Swedes
Suburban Dreaming

It’s always a bit of a gamble getting handed a local release to review. On the one hand I certainly want to help out local acts, but if an album isn’t really to my liking, it puts me in a difficult position - I can’t lie and say it’s good and I don’t want to annoy anyone by saying I don’t like it (Adelaide is, after all, a small town). Which is why it’s such a pleasure to be handed a release like ‘Suburban Dreaming’, because, with no bias or incentive whatsoever, I can say that it’s a wonderful, beautiful, stirring and emotional debut album and that Huckleberry Swedes are one of South Australia’s bands to watch.

It all kicks off rather innocuously with Dust Storms Falling, opening with gently strummed acoustic guitar and mellow piano before Troy Loakes’ impassioned voice peals forth from the speakers. Gradually the track builds up to incorporate gentle mandolin melodies, beautiful harmony vocals and a truly stirring string section. The best thing? It’s only the first of many highlights from these talented polymaths, who combine elements of alt-country, folk, gospel, blues, soul and every type of music which is good for what ails you. The bluesy Will My Heart Stay On Track should certainly be a contender for a single, with its funky blues guitar riffing and strong backbeat. Again, Loakes’ singing is right up front, delivering a gritty, soul-style vocal which turns heart-wrenching in the extended coda, combined with butter harmony vocals.

It’s not all melancholy, though - Huckleberry Swedes also exceed at more upbeat material, with We Farm Our Love based around a rather delightful mandolin riff, and the jaunty Cast A Line, a countrified ode to the simple joys of fishing. At all times the arrangements are solid and well-thought out, and the palette of acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos, subtle drums and fruity Hammond organ, with flourishes of pedal steel, dobro and strings, is simply joyous. The warm, organic and very live feel which producer Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil) has created fits the material and the players to a tee, and is never over-complicated, never too shiny nor too raw.

Closing track Baby’s Gonna Lift Me Up is almost perfect, combining a melancholy feel with a life-affirming vocal melody of almost gospel intensity. It’s a slow burner with an uplifting finish. Suddenly, ‘Suburban Dreaming’ is over, and you’ll find yourself reaching for the play button again, if only for the big grin that it’ll surely put on your face. Track this down, listen to it, love it, listen to it again - there is nothing else to add. - dB Magazine, Issue 469, June 17-30 2009

"Album Review, Drum Perth"

Kim Kirkman - Drum Perth June 4, 2009

Huckleberry Swedes
Suburban Dreaming
South Australian five-piece Huckleberry Swedes have released their debut album Suburban Dreaming after three years together and it’s a languid philosophy lesson delivered in stirring harmonies and earthy verse. The Swedes are alternative country/roots rock with vivid soul and bluesy elements and musical flavours that vary from Springsteen to Xavier Rudd. They have packed a lot into their sound, but masterfully; and it flows smoothly, fuelling their loose folksy choruses and swelling anthems.

Suburban Dreaming is full of big rustic drums, thrumming bass and plaintive piano cutting through layers of deft strings. They seamlessly integrate fluid violin and cello with banjo, accordion and mandolin throughout the album. Vocals range from the emotional Will My Heart Stay On Track - sounding like Live’s Ed Kowalczyk incarnate - to Memphis gospel style flourishes, which would make James Brown proud in My Luck Is Changing. The album blends melancholy ballads like Somewhere By Sundown with jangly anthems Hair Trigger and We Farm Our Love, and soulful hymns in Rise And Fall. Tracks Wild Peach Pie and Cast A Line conjure deep south dreaminess, singing moonlight and fishing, peach pie and cattle trains in homage to the pastoral world of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn - from which they took their name.

The Adelaide boys do also bring the love home to our own heat baked shores with the powerful Duststorms Falling, and Small Cage, Big Land. As musically refined as their image is laid-back the Huckleberry Swedes woo you leisurely, celebrating the simple life and musing the big questions in rich, lively melodies. - Drum Perth June 4, 2009

"MediaSearch Review June 09"

Dave Griffiths - 2 June '09

A lot of people like to say that there are no new sounds in the music industry today, however that simply isn’t true. Adelaide five piece Huckleberry Swedes have a unique sound that even has rock historian Glen A Baker excited. These guys take the old Motown blues sound and mix it with a fair whack of soul and alternative country, and the result is ‘Suburban Dreaming’ an album that sounds so sweet that you will have it one repeat for days. There simply isn’t a bad track on this album and from the opening bars of ‘Dust Storms Falling’ you know you are onto something special. The sound of soul and country mixed in together hits you straight away and it sounds great. Troy Loakes’s vocals sound terrific on ‘Will My Heart Stay On Track’ and the poppier rock sound of ‘Small Cage Big Land’ instantly reminds you of Paul Kelly. The variety of sound to be found here is there for to see with ‘We Farm Our Love’ which has a Brit-rock sound to it and then that is followed up by ‘My Luck Is Changing’ which sounds like it hails from American’s Mid-West. It doesn’t matter whether Huckleberry Swedes are doing folk (on ‘The Rise And The Fall’), sweet rock (like on ‘Somewhere By Sundown’) or country (‘Wild Peach Pie’, ‘Hair Trigger’ and ‘Cast A Line) they remember to include sweet melodies and amazing lyrics that make this one memorable album indeed. ‘Suburban Dreaming’ is a stunning album by an amazing band whose sound will see them go a long way. -


Hair Trigger, EP 2005
Live in Newcastle, CD, 2007
Album Sampler, EP, 2008
Full length Studio Album "Suburban Dreaming" Produced By Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), 2009



Musical historian Glen A Baker calls Huckleberry Swedes' music
“The sound of generations….stirring up from deep down”

Huckleberry Swedes are a five piece outfit hailing from South Australia. With BJ Barker on drums, Sam Willoughby on bass/vocals, Richard "The Judge" Coates on keyboards/accordion, Mark Elberg on guitars/banjo/mandolin/vocals and Troy Loakes on vocals/guitar, this band of experienced players have rightly developed a name as a great live act.

The ‘Swedes shows are delivered with an intense heart and soul that has seen them invited to spend the last years criss-crossing the Australia, performing at some of it's finest music festivals, including Byron Bay Blues and Roots, Apollo Bay, Gympie Music Muster and Tamworth as well as performing their own tours.

Sometimes alt Country, sometimes Soul, Huckleberry Swedes are artists with voices that join in the ups and downs of our time. Songs about the love of fishing, pies, and sweethearts, songs of protest, underdog anthems and melancholic musings baked in a crust of roots, rock, folk, soul, Australiana and Americana. They’re a band that asks questions about who we are, and what our place is in the land.

"The Swedes are no pale imitators but I’ll offer some ballpark comparisons for reference sake: shades of The Band, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, The Faces and all manner of electrified, countrified rhythm and soul."
Chris Lambie - Forte Magazine May 21 ‘09

About Huckleberry Swedes

The name comes from American anti imperialist, anti racist, humorist/satirist and writer Mark Twain. It's a pun on the title of his most famous book 'Huckleberry Finn', arguably the most important work of American fiction (which he may have found humorous if still alive today). More info

The Huckleberry Swedes history is as chequered as hounds tooth pants, but a brief look into the band member’s origins and influences will give you some idea of the Huckleberry’s make up.

Until February 2005, the Huckleberry Swedes worked mainly as a duo; Troy Loakes (vocals/acoustic guitar) and Mark Elberg (guitar/banjo/mandolin/ vocals), spending most of their time recording and touring in Europe under the name Canvas. The guys met in a Ski Village in Austria in 1994, performing in a “musical sweatshop” of a venue in which each act was expected to perform upwards of four sets a night. Loakes recall's........

''Meeting Mark in this environment which could sometimes feel musically unrewarding and extremely tough, I mean literally bleeding fingers and bouts of Bronchitis, mixed up with a poor diet and the DT's, was a breath of fresh air. We were like minded and we pulled off some of the wildest renditions of obscure covers you can imagine.''

Troy and Mark spent their down time between sets writing and jamming together, and during these late night sessions discovered a musical chemistry that has kept them creating music together for the last fifteen years, over thousands of kilometres and just as many gigs. In 2000, they independently released the self-titled album Canvas, launching it with a ten piece band of Adelaide’s finest musicians.

With a line up change, new material and name change, The Huckleberry Swedes went into the studio in April 2005 with their original rhythm section consisting of drummer Toby Lang (The Audreys) and bass player Paul Cartwright and recorded the EP Hair trigger. Paul's other work commitments led him to bow out and he was replaced by Sam Willoughby in late 2005.

In January 2006 the band created a stir at Tamworth and made heaps of new friends, in particular the Flood and Bill Chambers. Shortly after, Loakes and Elberg embarked on a short European tour playing promo gigs, before June of that year saw the full band on the road, touring both as Bill Chambers’ backing band and the support act.

Huckleberry Swedes spent 2007 writing, recording and doing short tours around the traps with new drummer BJ Barker (Kasey Chambers, Dead Ringer Band) now on board. 2008 saw them build their profile with appearances at some of Australia’s finest festivals, including Tamworth, Byron Bay Blues and Roots Fest, Apollo Bay Festival, Gympie Music Muster and a handful of small, self promoted tours.

2009, and Huckleberry Swedes toured Australia to promote their debut full length album, produced by Midnight Oil's, Jim Moginie entitled "Suburban Dreaming;"

Recently, the band have been working on tracks for the second album to be recorded soon.


Troy Loakes lead vocalist and guitarist and principal songwriter has chanced his arm as a troubadour from the rundown A6 towns of the East Midlands UK, to the crisp burning Simpson Desert, singing his soul out into the very atmosphere, flippant one moment poignant the next, no punches pulled persona .Troy has become the quintessential suburban dreamer as you will hear in the poetical musings of the Huckleberry’