Better late than never
If there were any justice in the music world, Melbourne (Warrnambool based) rock outfit Cockfight Shootout would be a whole lot bigger than what they are at this point in their career but nothing is ever certain or assured when it comes to music, and despite having been around for more than a decade, line-up changes, unfortunate luck with labels and periods of forced hiatus has generally stalled Cockfight Shootout’s opportunity to be bigger than they should rightfully be.
But after a couple of E.P. releases (2002’s Something You Don’t Need and 2004’s Breed Until Broken) and an endless list of gigs under their belts over their ten years together (supporting the likes of Veruca Salt, Mondo Generator, Nashville Pussy, Monster Magnet, MC5, The Hellacopters, The Icarus Line and The Bronx), the four piece act (who comprise of vocalist/guitarist Keelan Gallogly, guitarist Paul Clifford, bassist Wayne ‘Slattz’ Slattery and drummer Al Barber) have finally delivered their long awaited full-length debut effort Asleep in Exile.
If you needed a short few words to describe what Cockfight Shootout’s sound is, it would be a mix of Foo Fighters, Nirvana and grunge rock in general, with shades of stoner rock to shake things up. The description itself doesn’t sound all that enticing, but don’t let my mere words turn you off. Because while Cockfight Shootout is far from anything original, the songs the band have penned for Asleep in Exile are worthy of cranking out at high volume and enjoyed purely for what they are.
The album gets off to a flying start with the band turning everything up to 11 for the opening track Grey. Big on guitar riffs, and just a hint of feedback fuzz to give the song a little rawness, Grey is an urgent rocker that demonstrates the band’s ability to rock out, and maintain a sense of melody in harmony that is every bit as infectious as the bands that inspired them in the first place (being Nirvana and early Foo Fighters).
Don’t Stray shows a slowing down on the speed, but showcases a greater use of dynamics in song structure with its quiet verses and big catchy noisy choruses, while Named And Shamed and Keep You Waiting are quite possibly the greatest songs that Nirvana never wrote or recorded around their In Utero (1993) phase.
The quirky guitar riffs and shifts in tempo within Alright Parasite is a cool deviation, and keeps things interesting around the middle of the album, while the slight pop edge that creeps into You’re Dead Let’s Disco, the title track Asleep in Exile and Paper Tiger is definitely a welcome one, and adds another dimension to the band’s sound.
Rounding out the remainder of the album are full on rock efforts, with Not Your Enemy and Milk and Vinegar the real stand outs.
Cockfight Shootout clearly wear their influences on their sleeves, which means that while the band’s music is solid and likeable, it’s hardly what you’d call overly original. But despite sounding similar to their influences, what the band have produced on Asleep in Exile is so damn good, and so infectious, that you can’t help overlook the obvious and just rock out to their album purely for the fun of it.