Roll The Tanks – [7” single]

Friday, 04 November 2011

Sometimes, without even having a clear plan in mind necessarily, a band manages to fall ass-backwards into a charmed rock n' roll rhythm which instantly connects with listeners. It's never one particular aspect of the band's songs which ends up being responsible for the instant adoration that listeners feel, it's just a complete package of good melodies, good guitar hooks and a great beat which ensures that some listeners will “get it” from the first spin, and never let the group go. The list of bands who have possessed that perfect quality is a short but revered one (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Replacements are all on it) and, in listening to the Goodnight Jimmy Lee single, that Roll The Tanks that Roll The Tanks will be the next members of the club seems inevitable.

Listeners will be able to feel the electricity radiate off the band as the namesake song of this seven-inch explodes out of speakers and makes an immediate run for their hearts. With vintage shades of new wave and nervous indie punk energy to spare, singer/guitarist Danny Carney, bassist Mikey Wakeham and drummer Joe Sirois skitter and quake through a chord progression that could have been an underground hit in the Eighties as sure as it could be now (read: it could be timeless, with the right opportunity), and will make those of the right mind stop dead in their tracks and take notice – it's just that striking. The lyrics are the sort of romantic and excited brilliance that made gods of The Replacements and The Beatles (scan “First time I heard you felt like I heard me/ My mom called, said I'm in magazines”), but but are also vague enough to let listeners take them home and make them mean whatever they like; the beauty of “Goodnight Jimmy Lee” is that it's impossible to say what exactly the song is supposed to be about (Danny Carney may know, he wrote it), but it doesn't really matter because the melody is just sticky enough to get caught in the ears of anyone who catches it and the scruffy-electric guitars play like a call to arms.

“Goodnight Jimmy Lee” is the sort of song that will make fans of many, but the single's B-side, “Pistolero,” is Roll The Tanks' secret weapon that will win the hearts the A-side ran for. Dialing back the electricity and picking up acoustic guitars (for the rhythm figure, anyway), the members of Roll The Tanks let their guards down and show listeners that their hearts are really on their sleeves. It becomes plain right away in this doomed love story that no one is fooling anyone (from the very first lines: “I lay awake, you have a cig/ You won't bite, your heart got gone/ Just touch me darlin' I'm your man remember/ You went out a saint, you came back in a state – just not worth it. Crush me darlin', I'm insulted.”) but the words to end the love affair haven't been uttered yet in this relationship, so it continues joylessly. Listeners will begin to feel for the singer as the heart-wrenching continues and, when he wryly mimics The Beatles' laughter from “Life Goes On,”it begins to feel splendidly hollow in the end. This is the kind of psychodrama that has taken other bands years to get right, Roll The Tanks nails on the first try here; that it appears as the B-side – the “extra track” in other bands' cases – seems perfectly ironic, somehow.

It might sound silly but, with just these two songs, Roll The Tanks has solidified their foothold in in rock, and will make believers out of anyone who hears them that they're a band to watch. These songs have the spark of greatness, truly; Roll The Tanks' first LP (2008's Suffer City) wasn't bad, but this single has so much more promise and reward. Buy it now – so you'll be able to say you got on at the ground floor of the band's meteoric rise.



The Goodnight Jimmy Lee seven-inch single is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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