With a sparkling jangle and a deeply satisfying crunchy rhythm, the new single ‘Island of the Dogs’ by Melbourne band Blackbirds FC is immense and cinematic, and we are proud to premiere this on Backseat Mafia.

There is an unmistakable antipodean blood flowing through the veins of this song – drawing in the wide sweeping landscapes created by The Triffids and The Go-Betweens, the sparkle and energy of The Church and the themes and story telling of Paul Kelly. There is a little too of what I call the Marrickville sound, reflecting contemporary bands like The Golden Fangs, The Finalists and The Electorate: a slightly detectable urban alt. country twang that hovers delicately at the edges and infused with a little grit and a lot of veracity.

The sound is immaculate – acoustic guitars shimmer up front and a Hammond organ sound floats in the distance, with deep vocals and gorgeous melodies filled with yearning.

Back on the Island of the dogs, they’re laughing, at the foolish dreams we make
Hear them every night, calling, young lovers to the break
And they tried, they tried to tell you
It was always gonna be this way
Cable ties and dank lies show the way ahea
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There is a heart of darkness within this picture. Songwriter Jeremy Gronow describes the deep rooted nostalgia that haunts the track:

My family would go to these cheesy yacht club dinner dances at a motel called Yackatoon in Cowes. The entertainment was always provided by a bloke with a big Lowry organ with a very primitive drum machine.

Basically the guy’s set was playing show tunes and working through the various dance rhythms – the Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Salsa and so forth. It was incredibly kitsch and absolutely torturous for me as a young music fan just starting to get into alternative stuff.

I’d sneak out of the motel and go across the road to the Isle of White Hotel beer garden. I’d stand there listening to the older, cooler kids partying to ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ and ‘Come Said the Boy’ and desperately wishing I could get inside. After the pub closed there would be people doing burnouts in Sandmans and utes out the front until the cops came, I thought it was all the best thing ever.

This poignancy indeed comes out evocatively through the sound and the lyrics – a throat tightening, eye moistening remembrance of times gone by capturing a quintessential period in eighties Australia.

‘The Island of the Dogs’ is available from 10 February 2021 from the usual download/streaming sites or you can pre-order directly from the band below. An album is on the way (the band’s second).

Blackbirds FC will be launching the single on Thursday 18 February, at The Ember Lounge in St Kilda VIC with special guests The Fish John West Reject (a legendary band in its own right).

Blackbirds FC are:
Phil Campbell: Drums, percussion
Julien Chick: Bass
Jeremy Gronow: Vocals, guitars
Gina Hearnden: Vocals, guitars
Bec Long: Cello
With special guest Cameron McKenzie on lead guitar and backing vocals.