Words by Elizabeth Sharpe (@ummagummamumma)
If I can thank the current world-wide pandemic situation for anything, it would be for making me so completely starved of live music that I almost immediately turned to deliberately seeking out new, fresh and soul-satisfying audible offerings … and hence finding myself absolutely obsessed with The Rockefeller Frequency. I mean it, it’s almost getting to be a problem. They are on repeat. I’m singing every word. Their new album has basically become my household’s soundtrack to the Coronapocalypse.
The Brisbane-based angsty alt-rock 4-piece have recently returned to the scene after a hiatus of 5 years. They note influences of Nirvana and The Strokes, and although I can appreciate that, my ears are really welcoming the comparisons I’m personally finding with Rise Against.
The Rockefeller Frequency released their debut album ‘Chemicals’ on March 16, 2020, following the staggered release of the album’s 3 featured singles; The Rift, Sheep And The Wolf, and Good Apples. I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that the lion’s share of the album was recorded in the band’s own Basement Studios in Brisbane and was engineered and produced by the band too… an impressive feat when you really sit down and immerse yourself in the quality that has been achieved with these home-grown DIY tracks.
The album begins with Sheep And The Wolf; a solid introduction to the journey you’re about to embark on – both musically, with its strong edgy indie vibe, and thematically with the lyrical content dipped in dark underlying tones of a slightly grim and cynical look at human nature. The Rockefeller Frequency take a deep and probing, yet sympathetic approach to their subject matter.
Good Apples, truth be told, is the first The Rockefeller Frequency track I had ever heard… well, colour me hooked. Line and sinker. Right from the first bar, it’s feisty and catchy as hell and if your fingers, feet, or other relevant body parts aren’t tapping or bopping along, then I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. Hands down, my favourite track on the album. Vocalist Joshua Eckersley, shines throughout – his distinctive voice giving the story a punchy character foundation. I LOVE the way this song ends too – BAM! We’re done! It is its own statement.
I Told You I Was Hardcore is up next and I really do think this comes in as my second favourite track. Like I said, I’m a newcomer to The Rockefeller Frequency bandwagon, and a little research has led me to discover that this song was released as a standalone single a few years ago (*any persons close to me with knowledge of this band that failed to introduce me to TRF sooner, our friendship needs evaluating also). The subject matter in question (as per the dedication at the very beginning of the YouTube clip) is American computer enthusiast, Brandon Vedas, who somewhat inadvertently, took his own life in 2003 in front of a live audience on an online chat room. Amongst some of his last typed words, the title of this song. I’m floored at this. I’m transfixed on the depth of the lyrics, the attention to detail with the understanding and interpretation of this topic. Eckersley’s quivering yet controlled vocals in the intro are captivating and moving to say the least – “I’ve got a grip on these prescriptions. I can’t connect to your connections.” – then you are hit once again with that full band experience. This level of songwriting, intensity, and passion should no doubt be gracing some big stages, or at the very least (in these times especially) by reaching the ears of so many more.
Theodore, Get Up, and We Are The Dead are backed up by the heavy hitting and rather anthemic Rivals – having a bad day? Someone getting on your nerves? This is the track you want to skip to and blast from your dodgy car stereo with the windows wound down so you can scream along with the chorus – therapeutic as hell. Bringing in a little shoegazey feel, emphasised by Tim Corcoran’s driving guitar and wailing tones, and Jacob Mann’s invigorating drums; Long Way From The Gutter kinda makes me feel like we’ve slid back through time to the mid 90’s with some Dandy Warhols… and I’m very cool with that.
Taking it down a few bpm, The Rift is no less catchy than it’s slightly faster counterparts. Michael Russell’s bass line is infectiously cool for this track especially. The outro showcases Eckersley’s vocals and lyrics with a complimentary harmonised layering of separate phrases – seemingly emphasising the desperation for the message to be heard and understood, or maybe it’s a jab at multiple personalities – the ones we are, and the ones we work hard to portray to other people. It definitely could be mistaken for being the token love-song on the album… but as with all the tracks, I think a little more poking around between the lines will reveal a familiar recurring theme contemplating aspects of the human condition.
With a total of 12 luscious and addictive tracks, the album comes to a close with Love Letter (From Alien To Human), Obliterate Me, and Vanished At The Disco. I’m not ashamed at all to admit that I’ve hit the repeat button with the intention of delving deeper into each song, to try to find more meaning behind the lyrics, With each listen, my appreciation for the content and musicality grows.
For me, there are many signs of a truly great album, and one of them is this indefinable way that a collection of brand new songs can instantly lower a nostalgic viel, make you feel completely understood, amongst friends – you’re singing along like you’ve been belting out these words and phrases for years, like you wrote them yourself, or they were written for you. To say that I needed to feel all these feelings at this weird time in human history, is a massive understatement. I also need things to look forward to, and man(!) I really look forward to when this whole shit show is over and I can finally catch these guys at a live show.
I’m making the call: The Rockefeller Frequency may just be Brisbane’s best kept secret.
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With thanks to The Right Profile