When I heard their track “On the beers,” I couldn’t help but pigeonhole them into the comedy/satire category. Don’t get me wrong, their newest single is great! And the level of songcraft and musicianship here are nothing to laugh about. But, the content is light. The song talks about missing friends during coronavirus lockdown, and how one of said friends is celebrating her birthday alone this year because they can’t get together at their favourite pub. By-the-by, for Aussies, “getting on the beers” is a common way of referring to having drinks. So, I decided I had to go and look up the video for the song, and that’s what sealed the deal for me. The guitarist/singer for the group has filmed himself on mobile (or laptop) at his home having a few beers by his basement bar, while pretending that there are people around that he’s conversing with as he would at a pub. The video has got some key drunken air-guitar scenes, and it cuts to several shots of his friends in the street wearing face masks and looking generally lonely, as most are during a pandemic. The funniest thing about it for me is that the guitarist starts out with a couple of beers, and eventually just seems to be getting shit-faced by himself until he passes out on his bar counter. He gets up eventually, wondering, “what happened?” It’s perfect.
While it’s certainly appurtenant during this time to get sentimental about friends and the social lives we all had before the pandemic (we ALL had them…), I almost missed the fact that Cold Sleep are actually a serious band with much more to offer than just a timely satirical single like “On the Beers.” Perusing through some of their catalogue on Spotify, I was blown away with their output. Cold Sleep play great hardcore music and their female vocalist is spectacular. Lyrically, their songs tackle the mental and emotional struggles within relationships. Musically, there’s great guitar interplay, which reminds me of some of the finer moments of Moneen, Poison the Well, and even At the Drive-in. The breakdowns are emotional, the drummer shows expert skill at crafting several different parts using the double bass pedal, and, again, the vocalist adds to the contrasting sections by alternating between legato-style singing and screamo-type vocal.
Back to “On the Beers”: it’s a fun tune and a thought many of us have had during this trying time. A line like “I’m standing half cut at the bar I’m wondering where the hell you are” hits close to home as we’re all sort of looking around our own rooms wondering where our good friends are. The intro guitar riff does do a good job of grabbing our attention, with some subtle mandolin playing giving the song an Aussie pub-rock mood. The narrator is believable with lines like “My garden’s really looking good my cooking’s delicious and I guess it’s understood it could be worse than being locked in here we could be homeless and on the street.” For a track released by a band during a pandemic, this is solid. The video is an amazing bonus! I wouldn’t mind popping it on while taking down a few sody pops, but this band has a lot more great music to check out as well.