Hailing from the small town of Apollo Bay on the southern coast of Australia, the Vasco Era have crafted a first album about being small-town boys in a small-town band -- it's even named after their local football club's oddly wimpy theme song. Oh We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside was produced by Jeff Saltzman, who has worked with the Black Keys and the Killers; this album is definitely closer to the former than the latter in its blues-rock sound. Every song on the almost-concept album contains the word "when," linking them together like chapters in a rambling story told by an affectionate drunk at a party, a simple and heartfelt story about a breakup and its aftermath. Vocalist Sid O'Neil soars between anguished screams worthy of the Vines' Craig Nicholls and a bluesy growl reminiscent of Jack White from the White Stripes. The rest of the band plays hard rock that takes its swagger from the Rolling Stones and its volume and dirge riffs from Black Sabbath. The opening tracks are garagey stomps that don't slow down, the first pause for breath appropriately coming with "When We Tried to Get You to Settle Down." O'Neil laments about the times and "Some kind of blues that I'm way too young to try and understand," but then he delivers lines that show his excellent grasp of a quirky kind of blues for the young, wistfully singing "The girl from The O.C. was backstage at the Wolfmother show/And we almost talked to her." "Honey Bee (When It Was Making Wierd [sic] Love Songs)" exploits the quiet loud/dynamic so apocalyptically it's as if the last 20 years of post-Pixies rock hadn't happened and you're hearing it done for the first time. The rhythms are so solid they demand a kind of whole-body headbanging in response, but the star is clearly the vocals. There's not a second on the whole album where O'Neil doesn't sound so passionate that you think he's about to do permanent damage to his vocal cords. This is an album worthy of taking them from their humble roots and catapulting them to a much larger stage.
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AllMusic Review by Jody Macgregor