There’s no denying that Coastal Fire Dept have had one of the most sustained runs of releasing new music of any band I can remember in the Channel Islands with a string of singles, EPs and a debut album over the last couple of years to rival anyone and now they’ve started their next cycle of releases with something somewhat out of left field for a band so keen on promoting original music, a cover of Pixies’ Gouge Away.
From the start, with a more developed intro, this is bigger and brasher than the original song from the 1989 Doolittle album, but taking a song by such an iconic band is always going to be a major task to attempt and the trio from The Vale (Ollie Goddard on vocals, Saad Frihmat on bass and Ozzy Austin on drums) do an admirable job.
Certainly Ollie’s vocals can’t match the slightly terrifying, disturbed disquiet of Black Francis, but I’m not sure anyone could and, to a degree, he does make the song his own while additional vocals from Colleen Irven (of Sacred Hearts, amongst others) adds that something extra that elevates it nicely while referencing the original band’s Kim Deal, of course.
As a whole Coastal Fire Dept take the song in a more alt rock (and almost 90s Britrock) direction with a different kind of power that maybe doesn’t have the skin tearing heart of the original but does show the band going further with exploring the noisier aspect of their sound, as they have at recent live shows, and I hope we might hear more of that going forward now they are a three piece again – if indeed they are to remain as such.
Ultimately choosing to cover a song by such a seminal band, from arguably their landmark album, is an interesting choice but Coastal Fire Dept do an admirable job of it, even if they (or anyone) can’t quite match the original’s quiet, desperate, menace, but this has set the scene for the build up to the Guernsey band’s second full length album in the new year and I look forward to seeing where that path leads.