oddly named Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. A Pair of EP's and a 7" single.....before I paste a review on here, notice that the single and the "Talk Tight" EP are bundled with each track individually.....this is for technical reasons, don't concern yourself with it!
This Melbourne band alternates the pop literacy of the Go-Betweens and the rambunctious energy of the Easybeats with the roaring punk propulsion of Royal Headache.
Talk Tight, the debut by the Melbourne quintet Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, is presented as a “mini-LP”: seven rip-roaring tracks that move by their own logic, any one of which could be a single and all of which leave you wanting more in the best way possible. The group’s revolving team of singers and songwriters (everybody but the drummer takes a turn on the mic) chronicle knotty relationships and winding road trips, but taken together, these songs are after something more public than personal. Asked by the blog Triple J Unearthed what inspires the band, singer-guitarist Fran Keaney hinted at their music’s true subject: “It’s going to sound all at once lame, wanky and vague but: Australia? As in the concept of Australia. What it was, What it is…”
There are too many qualifiers in that response to believe he’s taking the piss on a question that’s impossible to answer. And onTalk Tight, the band evokes certain aspects of Australia in the sunbaked surf-pop guitar licks and taut punk momentum, both carefree and a little cautious and therefore perfect for a country that’s home to this fucking thing. Listening to these seven tunes, you can easily trace a national lineage: the relentlessness of Radio Birdman, the pop literacy of the Go-Betweens, the rambunctious energy of the Easybeats, and the belief—shared with Courtney Barnett—that guitars are not just crucial to the message but might very well be the message themselves.
Even in Melbourne, which seems to produce more great guitar bands per capita than any other city in the world, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever stand out for the precision of their melodies, the streamlined sophistication of their arrangements, and the undercurrent of melancholy that motivates every note. This is a band that thrives on contradiction and duality, pitting opposing urges against each other. To describe their own sound, the members coined the term “tough pop/soft punk,” which is apt as a label as well as a refusal to pare themselves down to any one particular thing.
As that awkward name suggests, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever often sound like they’re in fact two different bands. There’s the group behind midtempo opener “Wither With You,” which falls squarely in the “tough pop” category. In this mode, each instrument contributes to a swirl of melody and the guitars chime and ramble as Tom Russo chronicles the strained dissolution of a relationship: “Oh your pretty face is curling up in anger,” he sings, in a tone that might deepen rather than defuse her fury. “Just keep in mind, my darling, I did it all for you.” Keeping it from sounding bitter is the nimble rhythm section, the genial snap of Marcel Tussie’s drums and Joe Russo’s loping bassline. Here and on “Tender Is the Neck,” the group foreground mood over momentum, establishing an autumnal ambience that underscores the bittersweet reminiscence of the lyrics.
The band’s other mode is to play at the punk end of the Aussie spectrum, closer to Royal Headache or Eddy Current Suppression Ring. The tempos quicken noticeably, with half-shouted vocals and guitars that fight not for the lead but for the rhythm parts. Tussie and Russo chug along diligently, as though timekeeping were the true rock star’s responsibility. You hear it in songs like “Wide Eyes,” a fierce travelogue that explodes with tightly coiled jangle and angsty wanderlust. They might be too soft to trash a club, but the Blackouts ably wring the last bit of tension from the skeletal “Clean Slate,” with its intricate curlicue riffs and fidgety call-and-response.
The great trick of Talk Tight is how Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever find the overlap between those conflicting pop and punk impulses. Even at their fiercest they’re happy romantics (“You run the bath, and I’ll warm the pasta, girl”) as well as sensualists (“Your hair stands up when I kiss the back of your neck”), qualities that seem rare in any band. Rarer still is their precarious balance of idealism and realism, which defines the closer, “Career,” about a friend who traded his rebellion and defiance for “a silk tie and an ’09 Ford.” It might sound dismissive and taunting if Russo and Keaney didn’t sound half-tempted themselves. They’re wise to the compromises that accrue with the years, but they’d rather stay on the road, rumbling through Australia and beyond like a tidal wave obliterating every coast.
TALK TIGHT EP-01 Wither With You/02 Wide Eyes/03 Heard You're Moving/04 Clean Slate/05 Tender is the Neck
SINGLE 01 Write Back/02 Career
THE FRENCH PRESS EP-01 French Press/02 Julie's Place/03 Sick Bug/04 Colours Run/05 Dig Up/06 Fountain of Good Fortune
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