There is a very specific audience which will recognise the many obscure references to names like Peter Russell Clark, TDK cassette advertisements and Countdown in the new single, ‘Tape Hiss’ from Australian band Cousin Betty. Namely, Australians growing up in the eighties when the music show Countdown ruled the airwaves and provided a musical education to the culturally starved youth.
Strewn with pop nostalgia and referencing all the bands from that era, this is a buzzsaw single with mountainous riffs and an electronic thrum. Very enjoyable, very cathartic, even if you don’t catch all the references. And all perfectly encapsulated in the title.
The accompanying video places its tongue firmly in the cheek – new romantic models in place of the no doubt slightly more worn members of the band, the intro with generational education of the joys of cassettes and mixtapes:
There is serious intent in the music but leavened with a little touch of humour and nostalgia in a tribute to the joys of making a mixtape. There is a message, however subliminal, that music has never quite reached the heights it did back then, which I would hesitate to endorse, but a welcome dose of misty-eyed nostalgia delivered in a rock hard container nonetheless.
Damien Stofka a guitarist/songwriter for Cousin Betty says of the song and its themes:
When we were jamming this one, I just remember the energy it had. It really needed to be celebratory and communal – something that people would want to sing out loud together. I thought of examples like Kiss ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night’, Queen ‘We Will Rock You’ and Twisted Sister ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. While we discussed those and other examples, it occurred to me that I couldn’t think of anything contemporary – since ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ perhaps, that was as much of an anthem. That’s when I decided to just make it about a period of anthems in general.
Main member, Stofka has been deeply involved in some of Australia’s most iconic bands – touring with The Psychotic Turnbuckles, Doc Neeson (The Angels) and The Lime Spiders.