“Hope Downs” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Review
Review by John Wright
Is that band name too long? Fans of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard or Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger probably don’t see the problem, but I think it may be. “Rolling Blackouts” and “Coastal Fever” are both totally adequate band names on their own but smashed together I can’t help but feel like it rolls off the tongue awkwardly. The band themselves seem to be aware of this, as on the cover of the album they refer to themselves as “Rolling Blackouts C.F.” Which just sort of exacerbates the problem, as now they sound like a semi-pro soccer team.
All of this rambling is to disguise the fact that I don’t have much to say about Hope Downs musically. Rolling Blackouts C.F. are a perfectly competent band with their fair share of Aussie charm and a talent for producing pleasant, poppy guitar band music but I’m not sure if any of that is particularly praiseworthy. Sitting on my front porch with a beer while a warm breeze caresses the bushes and the stray cats chase each other around is a “pleasant” experience, but not really anything to write home about. Perhaps I’m just being a snob and I should admit that as debut albums go Hope Downs has a lot to like and Rolling Blackouts C.F. show a lot of potential. Though I keep coming back to that word “pleasant,” I can’t help but think I really want to say “vapid” and I’m just being too nice.
Though really, I think I’m just being a sourpuss here, there’s nothing wrong with just being plain vanilla so long as your plain vanilla is good enough to rise above the crowd. Furthermore, we’re at a point of such inversion of pop musical norms, that I wonder if just setting out to make simple, listenable guitar music isn’t going against the grain. Hope Downs isn’t getting out of here without a recommendation, at least as playlist filler, but if you’re looking to diversify your music taste from “white guys with guitars,” you’d best look elsewhere.
This album is best enjoyed on a day where room temperature and outside temperature are the same.