Review Summary: More no-nonsense, crowd-pleasing anthemic rock, with a slightly expanded sonic palette second time around.
Have you ever thought about what makes the perfect support act for touring bands? Some outfits will choose groups who most resemble their own sound, others prefer to help out artists they either personally know or like, while many don't give a toss and let their managers or promoters make the decision. One trait that would be of benefit for an up and coming band looking for such a priceless opportunity is to fit the description of being "no-nonsense". And when international rock acts (such as AC/DC, Queens of the Stone Age & Biffy Clyro) head down under, they need look no further than Melburnians Calling All Cars. Bursting on to the scene in early 2010 with their consistent debut LP 'Hold, Hold, Fire', the trio specialized in energetic, straight-ahead rock with pleasing punk leanings. Just over a year later, they return with a slightly expanded sonic palette on follow-up 'Dancing With A Dead Man'.
Something a little more far-reaching is evident from the get-go, with the two minute introductory track 'Redline' beginning methodically, before dialing up the vocal and musical intensity. Continuing to hint at a darker aesthetic is lead single 'Reptile', where distorted backing vocals and driving, tribal rhythms (courtesy of drummer James Ing & bass player Adam Montgomery) merge into some winning guitar licks during the addictive chorus. There are rare occasions when such hard-hitting aggression clashes uncomfortably with the band's liking for an accessibly melodic hook, but the silky smooth harmonies of the title track, the infectiously airplay-demanding 'Worlds Collide', and the spectacular contrasts of 'Fireworks In A Hurricane', display a satisfying strike rate in this regard. The latter track may be the best in exhibiting front-man Haydn Ing's near perfecting of the Dave Grohl playbook, as he impressively combines melody and vigor. In addition to his always effective lead guitar-work, Ing demonstrates almost tender control during the verses, before unleashing his grungy rasp come chorus time.
One knock on the trio following the release of their debut was that there was not a great deal beneath the surface of too many of their tunes. Such detractors may once more point to an uncomplicated, shout-along anthem like 'She's Delirious' and repeat their criticism. However, when it - and the superior, sure to be live favorite 'Throw Me To The Wolves' - are such great fun, then it is extremely easy to overlook such a critique. Furthermore, Calling All Cars clearly look to counter such an accusation with greater experimentation second time around. Tracks such as 'The Desert Sun' have a mildly progressive feel to them, giving the album deceptive replay value. The greatest curve-ball however comes in the form of five minute closer 'Wait For War', an atmospheric wall of noise which ends proceedings on an especially interesting note.
Ask ten people which of Calling All Cars' two albums they prefer and the result may well be split. Half of the respondents are likely to favor the more immediately memorable debut, with its killer opening four tracks especially standing out. While others are likely to side with this more versatile release, quoting the greater variety apparent and an admirable growth factor. It is much of a muchness really with the distinction likely coming down to personal factors. What should be agreed upon is the cohesiveness evident on 'Dancing With A Dead Man', as power meets melody in a satisfyingly natural manner. For this reason, much kudos should be given to producer Tom Larkin, who presents these raw and gritty eleven tracks in crystal clear fashion without being overly slick. It all results in yet another consistent release from a band who are soon becoming a safe bet when it comes to crowd-pleasing anthemic rock. But what else would you expect from such a no-nonsense trio?
Recommended Tracks: Reptile, Worlds Collide, Fireworks In A Hurricane & Throw Me To The Wolves.
In all seriousness though, solid review. The opening paragraph actually did make me think about the relationship between bands and opening acts, because out of most of the concerts I've been to the choices have just been lol. U2 picking The Fray to open for them in Winnipeg was perhaps the crown blunder.
Yeah they did. And other places in the states got Lenny Kravitz, and the eastern Canada venues got
Arcade Fire. The Fray's performance that night was just lol. In fact, I'd have traded the entire Fray
setlist for a single mediocre Muse song - say "United States of Eurasia". My immediate response after
coming back from the concert was to come on here and 1 all their albums (both of which I had at a 2
prior to the show).
Btw, I'm contemplating trying out Calling All Cars...do you think I should start here or with their
you consider biffy clyro to be an international rock act?? interesting...
When I saw them last year opening for Manchester Orchestra, nobody had any idea who they were. They put on a super fun show and all, they just definitely were not in any way renowned (not in Pittsburgh, at least)
Ouch Irving. That's more than robbed, that's raped. I would love to see U2 supporting Arcade Fire or Muse. LOL.
I'd probably start with CAC's debut. No real reason other than it was 1st.
Thanks Aids. Maybe when you're in the mood to RAWK, you can give them a go.
Well, Biffy are international (to Australia & the U.S) and are rock, so they are an International rock act. LOL. But yeah, I know what you mean. Biffy don't exactly sell out huge venues down under, but they have headlined. Their last album sold fairly well here.