Rolling Blackouts C.F.: French Press EP

Photo: Rubin Utama

Rolling Blackout C.F.'s new EP is for indie rock fans alone and can’t stretch past the borders of the genre.

Rolling Blackouts C.F.

The French Press

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2017-03-10
UK Release Date: 2017-03-10

If I read one more “rock is dead” headline, I think I might die. It’s a lazy narrative, but I can support lazy narratives if they are true. But rock isn’t dead; it's just not popular. The distinction is important because a lack of popularity often can bring with it a renewed sense of classicism and creativity. The French Press, the new EP by Rolling Blackouts C.F., ultimately lacks both while still maintaining a relatively positive rock experience.

The title track grooves thanks to a tight rhythm section and a reverb guitar, plus Julian Casablancas's inspired vocal delivery. The guitar solo is a bit too simple to be compelling, sounding more like a teenager playing notes off a music sheet than a moving, expansive moment. They would have been better served to cut the song short; it runs out of gas after about four minutes of its over-five-minute runtime.

“Julie’s Place” sounds like a Strokes demo fronted by Teenage Fanclub. It's youthful in its appeal but confident in its execution. When the chorus hits, it's just “yeah". Like a Beatles or Tame Impala chorus, you wonder if you have heard it before or it’s a cover because of how instantly memorable the melody is. Going against pop wisdom, they wait until the second minute to hit the chorus with an extended hold, and it pays off handsomely.

“Sick Bug” has a pinch of angst and heavily accented syllables. By the third chorus, the repeated “I want you” is tired, and I can’t imagine playing this song every night on tour. The echoed bridge is nice but not enough to save the track from indie mediocrity. The guitar hook on “Colours Run”, however, is one of the best on the record. The acoustic guitar on “Dig Up” reminds me why this instrument is so maligned. The strum pattern is so painfully plain that almost anything would be an improvement. A chugging electric or an accented pattern could have improved what we have here. Even the vocal performance sounds more like a place-holder than a final take.

Ending track “Fountain of Good Fortune” has a solid repeated line in the title, but the generic lyrics and guitar work and drumming can’t make this into a must-listen. Ultimately, this record is for indie rock fans alone and can’t stretch past the borders of the genre. The influences are apparent but many -- the Strokes, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, a pinch of Pavement, a handful of Yo La Tengo. While channeling but not living up to any of those artists, your time with Rolling Blackouts C.F. will likely have you reaching for a classic record than a repeated listen.






'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?


Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.


IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.


Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.


PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.