One thing about Melbourne, Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is that I can never seem to get their name right. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, you know. How many bands have four word names these days? People are lucky enough to be able to remember two word band names. It seems that their US label Sub Pop realizes this, shortening the band’s name for their US debut to Rolling Blackouts C.F. I don’t know if this is better though. It isn’t a whole lot easier to remember, and it gives the impression that there is already a band named Coastal Blackouts and these Blackouts are from some country with the initials C.F.
Another thing about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is that they jangle. You hear the likely suspects (Bats, Clean, & Feelies) in their sound, but their jangle comes from a more classic rock corner of the universe. Their sound can best be described by the Close Lobsters‘ cover of Neil Young‘s Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black). They sound like they’ve done their time on the bar circuit, and taken their lumps winning over hard drinking, blue collar fellows in dungarees.
One more thing about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, they’re show this past Tuesday at Barboza here in Seattle was a lot of fun. The five piece band featured three guitarists and singers, but their secret weapon, which all great bands will attest to, was their rhythm section. Every song was anchored by some great bass riffs which was really apparent live. That firm mooring allowed the guitarists to really go into their hyper-manic-riff mode trading licks and often vocal spots. This band seems to be very well oiled machine.
One final thing about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, they do a mighty fine cover of the Orange Juice classic Blueboy!
Seattle’s designated openers for all Australian jangly type bands, Zebra Hunt did just that. On this night I found out:
In Australia, zebra is pronounced with a short ‘e’.
Zebra Hunt’s second LP is coming out May 19.
The band now seems to be a permanent four piece.
They have got a brand new set of songs that rivals the ones the made me fan in the first place.
They just keep getting better!
They might actually be Australian judging from their ace cover of the Go-Betweens‘ Was There Anything I Could Do?
Bentcousin are a brother-sister (twins actually) duo Pat and Amelia who seem way to young to remember St. Etienne, Orange Juice and Kirsty MacColl but ably bring all three to mind on their self-titled debut LP. Their songs are full of spunk, spite and wayward coolness. The siblings seem like they were born to be pop stars. They write smart pop songs that swagger and swoon.
Their cover of Dinosaur Jr‘s Freak Scene is so original it barely sounds like a cover. In fact I bet if you heard it somewhere not knowing it was a cover you’d be hard pressed to recognize it. Elsewhere on the record Baby You’re My Jesus sounds like Vic Goddard getting together with the Shangri-Las recording at Edwin Collins‘ place. Rock & Roll Me wants to be Donna Summer baking a cake and leaving it out in the rain. Another highlight Uncertain has the tenderness and bravado of a Kirsty MacColl song and a great line about the Slits and the Go-Go’s.
For some this record might seem like it’s all over the place, but for any lover of pop music it will quickly endear itself. It happened to me and it’s now one of my favorite records of the year.
Los Angeles’ Dream Boys remind me of time not long ago when the first Tyde album came out. I was surprised how a band from Los Angles were able to sound like direct descendants of Felt. Back then when record stores were the only place you could buy music there was what’s called an import section and a certain American record buyers would search that section out because that was where all the best jangly pop stuff came from.
I doubt that Dream Boys peruse the import section of their local record store. Is there a record store these days that even has an import section? In fact you could argue that they don’t need an import section for their influences. Their own back yard is overflowing with potential inspirations. The Paisley Underground scene of the 80’s and of course the ground zero of everything that is jangle the Byrds. Dream Boys have two songwriters one favoring the UK flavor, the other seems to prefer the LA flavor. So you get the best of both worlds here.
Whether you dig the sounds of the Tyde, Bif Bang Pow, Long Ryders, the Bluebells, Close Lobsters, Felt, the Three O’clock or the Byrds there is something for you on this album. It will remind you of any of the above, or it may make you search out some of those bands to find out how Dream Boys got here. No matter the direction of your approach, this exceptional album will satisfy. Guaranteed!
I read an interview with Electricity In Our Homes where they said that they were influenced by early Postcard records by Orange Juice and Joseph K. On side two of their new album Dear Shareholder which came out a few weeks ago on Fierce Panda, the song Nothing, If Not Lovely starts off with what sounds like a riff lifted from OJ, but then goes all wonky and ends up in some dissonant plane. That, in a nutshell (sorry) is Electricity In Our Homes. There are songs like Oranges with a rattling riff and unforgettable refrain: you’re unhappy because you don’t know you are happy that are immediate and riveting, and then there are some that seem to lose the plot like the afore mentioned Nothing, If Not Lovely.
So why am I bothering to write about a record that isn’t 100% awesome? Because when Dear Shareholder is great, it’s really great and the louder you play it the greater it is. Songs will accelerate to a breaking point like We Are All Trooping Off in a Big Old Gang and then totally slow down and turn into something entirely different and then revert again. I can only imagine that live these songs really come to life. Via the recorded medium they can play havoc with you, like hanging out with a split personality. Sometimes they are the Kinks or the Talking Heads, and at others they are Leika or Syd Barrett. At the very end, on a hidden track that comes up after you think it’s done, they decide that they’re deformed reggae and do a nutso cover of UB40‘s Here I Am Baby. Electricity In Our Home obviously are doing things with complete disregard for the mainstream and have made record that is at the least interesting and at times quite good.
Vic Godard is an unassuming postman by day, cult hero by night, and now writer of show tunes with Irvine Welsh. Blackpool is the title song from a production that apparently didn’t go over too well in the limited run it had in Edinburgh back in 2002. Nevertheless, Godard didn’t want the songs he wrote for the production to be forgotten, and has seen fit to release a four song EP called Blackpool. They were all co-written with Irvin Welsh. The title song has a carnival, Bert the Chimney Sweep, Dent May feel to it and is quite charming if I do say so myself.
The EP is currently available on through the man himself. Also, prepare yourself for an album of new songs from Godard on 11 October, titled We Come as Aliens will.
The seventh solo album from former Orange Juice front man Edwyn Collins is the first one he’s made since his near death experience (a brain hemorrhage in 2005) and it promises to not only be star packed (Johnny Marr, Roddy Frame, the Cribs, Drums, Magic Numbers, Franz Ferdinand, Dave Ruffy, and Paul Cook) but if the title track is any indicator a return to the bountiful pop cornucopia of the mid 90’s Georgeous George and I’m Not Following You.
The album is called Losing Sleep and comes out 13 September on Heavenly in the UK. The cover features Collins’ bird drawings which he began doing after his stroke. He couldn’t play guitar, but he could draw and drawing birds he says helped him immensely in his recovery. From birds to pop hooks, Edwyn Collins is on the road to full recover as is evidenced by the title track from Losing Sleep. It is the first song to be released from the record and it features Collins in full northern soul mode. It’s a beauty and for the price of your email address it can be yours.