East Coast Low's coming of age
Seas on Fire – East Coast Low (Crankinhaus Records)
The promise of their first recordings (an album and a promotional EP) has been realised and “Seas On Fire” showsEast Coast Low has the requisite rock and roll cojones to take on all comers.
A five-piece with most of its membership drawn from the matter-of-fact city of Newcastle, a couple of hours north of Sydney, East Coast Low is a product of its home-town: Nothing is overly dressed up and most of the songs get straight to the point, with no fucking around.
This is a well-travelled band. Grizzled, if you like. High rotation on the national youth network doesn’t beckon (though we all know they don’t program anything with a hint of ageism about them.) The Low formed in 2015 with members playing in Newy bands like The Fools and No Reason. The influences are myriad, although the ‘70s punk lineage is strong.
Australians bang on about our bands having that distinctive energy that sets them apart from, say, their American counterparts. It’s to do with the heritage of playing songs live and in front of people rather than birthing them just in a studio. East Coast Low worked up 50 percent of these tunes in the studio and the rest in rehearsal and live. You can tell.
“Curtains” is an aural pummelling with Geoff Mullard (Australian Beefweek Show) and Al Creed (Aberration, ex-New Christs, ex-Hell Crab City) constructing a brick wall of guitars. They're all over these songs.
“Grown-Up Hero” stretches vocalist Michael Cornish’s growl but he’s up for the challenge. Cornish’s vocal is as earthy as they come, and the sort of thing that brings character to a band's sound. East Coast Low isn’t big on backing vocals but there’s enough variety in this batch of songs to maintain interest.
“Learning To Fall” is a glammy strut that belies its apocalyptic lyrics to sound upbeat, and there’s some sizzling lead guitar to add the hot spice. It’s good enough to merit a reprised instrumental take, late in the record.
“Lions” is a corker of a Detroit-tinged rocker. “No Waves” similarly belts along with the unaffected simplicity of earlyHusker Du. “Eviction Notice” is pure Died Pretty in its structure. OK, Spike Cornish can’t match it with Ron’s expansive vocal, but the wandering guitars recall Brett Myers. The guitar interplay of “Rum Core” has the whiff of the Radios about it.
It’s on CD, vinyl and digital here.