Here’s a band capable of brilliance, but also of frustration. They seem to have been in a battle with themselves ever since they first burst onto the scene last year. Coolrunnings are a quartet from Knoxville, Tennessee, who have been known to expand to a 7-piece on occasion, showing off yet another example of a band that isn’t sure what it wants to be. And herein lies their story, because on occasion they’re utterly fantastic, delivering music to your ears like a masterful butler, but other times they seem to bash their songs around your head until you give in.
Whether or not they actually care is another possible discussion point, as their EPs and debut album seem to abandon all sense and structure. There’s lots of partying fun and rioting energy within each song, which adds to their appeal, but also adds to the chaos. Just when you think you understand them, the next track switches gear and takes on a whole new colour. It’s like they’re so rammed with ideas that they just record the first thoughts that enter their heads. Thankfully they’re undoubtedly talented, so much of the time it is rewarding.
This fountain of inventiveness perhaps goes some way towards explaining their rate of output in just eighteen months. The summer of last year saw the arrival of not one but two EPs. Buffalo arrived with rumbling drums over a garage band sound, adding in stabbed synths and providing the kind of energetic momentum that’s typical of their work. The vocals were always playful, as were the subjects on offer, but it left you blinking hard as if trying to consider what just happened to you.
The other EP was Babes Forever and in typical Coolrunnings fashion it was another confusing affair. It shifted from frustrating noisy surfer guitar pop to beautiful melodic hooks that always appeared regularly enough to keep you interested. Not one of the six tracks on offer stood out from the other, but there were plenty of great moments displayed. This was the sound of creativity being thrown up onto the page. Somewhere in there were bits of magic, but you had to wade through the bile to locate them.
This year saw the eventual release of the debut full length album, Dracula Is Only The Beginning. It has the songsmiths hard at work again, delivering their burnt vocals over spiked guitars and a spinning tumbler of drums. The machine gun of ideas was once again firing throughout, but tunes like Brunettes and Thunderbirds we got real structure and control alongside the melodies. I Can Be Dreamy takes the engine out of the vehicle altogether, to good effect. Periods found inside tracks like the one found at the end of Jesse and throughout CKSFAR are among the most special of any to date.
Continuing the rapid production-line pace sees them release their new 7″ this month in the shape of Fool Moon and the B-side, Rusk. Both songs are another step up, suggesting the band are on a continuous learning curve. The mood feels different and the tunes are a lot more rounded and richer for it. It confirms their talents as song-writers to us and edges them onto The Recommender as a result. Like Beck, or The Beta Band, we seem to have a machine on show here that’s capable of spitting out awesome hits among the misses. At this rate of arrival it surely won’t be long before album number two, but something tells us that when they take slightly more time over their ideas they produce the excellence they’re clearly capable of. Here’s looking forward to a longer wait then. (MB)
COOLRUNNINGS – FOOL MOON
COOLRUNNINGS – RUSK
COOLRUNNINGS – CKSFAR