Review Summary: Honest and raw. Aussie rock done right.
When you start talking about Australian music, generally the first thing to pop into someone’s head is sweaty blokes pumping out anthemic rock songs in a packed out pub (Jimmy Barnes anyone?). Now, this genre has been done to death since the ‘80s and for it ever to see the light of day again bands have to start changing it up. Calling All Cars are one of those bands, giving the traditional, raw Aussie rock sound a punk and grunge influenced twist.
The first thing you notice about Calling All Cars’ debut album Hold, Hold, Fire
is the bucket loads of energy contained within the packaging. However, upon looking at what they’ve been doing recently, it’s not surprising at all. In the space of a year, Calling All Cars have gone from playing pubs and small support gigs to opening for AC/DC on their tour of Australia. These’s three Melbournians are genuinely stoked to be playing music and it rubs off on their debut.
Exploding out of the box with single ‘Disconnect,’ the three piece shows exactly why their infectious, riff driven rock has given them the chance to support AC/DC and a whole host of others. Front man/guitarist Hayden Ing immediately puts himself at the centre of attention, belting out the chorus with the kind of earnestness you wish every band had. ‘Run Away’ follows in a more subdued fashion with bassist Adam Montgomery providing some nice licks throughout the song, all the while not letting up on the catchiness.
If you’re going to listen to any songs from this album, make it the title track and ‘Not Like Anybody’. These two tracks are far and away the best on the album. Second single ‘Not Like Anybody’ begins with a early Silverchair sounding verse before Hayden Ing explodes in the chorus, dabbling into hardcore territory and seemingly channelling Kurt Cobain in one of his angrier moments. The soft-loud dynamics of this song work wonders for the band as once the chorus hits, the listener is guaranteed to sit up and take notice. The title track is more of a slow burner, the build up in the pop-punkish verses giving way to yet another fist pumping movement as drummer James Ing bashes the toms amidst yet another one of his brothers’ instantly catchy choruses.
Unfortunately, after the one-two punch of ‘Not Like Anybody’ and ‘Hold, Hold, Fire’ there are one or two tracks that come across as filler. The delivery of ‘This Ship Will Sail...’ feels awkward in that the song seems somewhat unfinished, whilst the pop punk styling of ‘Accident Waiting’ comes across as a rehash of ‘Disconnect’ and ‘Soldier On.’ Fortunately, that’s where the bad news ends. Older fans of Calling All Cars will be delighted with the inclusion of the re-recorded ‘Animal,’ a track from one of the band’s earlier EPs. It was a smart move too, with Hayden Ing’s jangling guitar and raw vocal delivery ensuring the energy of the track is not lost.
Towards the back end of the record the energy still hasn’t let up. Songs like ‘How Long’ and ‘Liar, Liar, Liar’ oozing energy and continuing Calling All Cars’ brand of raw, melodic rock. In particular, ‘Liar, Liar, Liar’ sees the band doing something a little different, filling the song out with some keyboard, all the while smashing out yet another fist pumping chorus. Hayden Ing again shows of his range, moving from screaming to melodic vocals and back again in ‘How Long,’ while closer ‘Little Red Hands’ is a typical Calling All Cars with Montgomery’s thudding bass providing the perfect backing to the verses before the band explode once again in the chorus.
On Hold, Hold, Fire
, Calling All Cars’ straight up rock has shown that you don’t need a myriad of studio effects to make a debut album, raw and passionate will do just fine. A minor gripe with Hold, Hold, Fire
is its length, clocking in at just over 38 minutes, the band could have easily added another couple of tracks and I’m sure no one would complain if they had done so. While it might not be the most original sound in the world, Calling All Cars’ earnestness and obvious love of playing on Hold, Hold, Fire
will draw you in. It worked for me at least...