Release Date: Jan 6, 2015
Record label: Communion Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock
Readily described as a young garage rock band, Catfish and the Bottlemen bluster into their highly polished debut album The Balcony with many of the traits of a garage rock band primed and ready for the radio. Their relative youth is so hidden behind frontman Van McCann's weathered and assured vocals, that if it wasn't for the (at times) crude lyrics, it would be easy to mistake the band for one slightly wiser beyond their years and with a few more albums under their belt. The Welsh-based outfit's music is easy on the ear, with grand Johnny Marr-inspired guitar hooks that are unapologetically catchy, gritty, and full of swagger in the same vein as indie rock types the Cribs, Feeder, and Mystery Jets.
It’s hard to think of an act that has been named after a busker; perhaps Catfish And The Bottlemen are the first, the busker in question being a character from frontman Van McCann’s early musical memories. The quartet from Llandudno have been ripping up the airwaves for a while now. An ever increasing radio presence has added to their recognition as hardworking, hard touring and altogether decent chaps.
Catfish And The Bottlemen’s debut arrives pent-up with frustration. The Llandudno four-piece, fronted by Van McCann (named after Van Morrisson) have slogged for six years in a tiny van desperately trying to escape their small town, McCann getting expelled from school in the process. ‘The Balcony’ is informed both by their struggle and their noughties indie elders.All this adds up to a dated sound.
If it’s a nostalgia trip to 2004 you’re after, then look no further than this Llandudno rock group’s debut. What The Balcony lacks in subtlety (“Craving your calls like a soldier’s wife”) and elegance (“your friends can fucking do one”), it makes up for in confidence. Well produced, its burly riffs and youthful energy recall the turbocharged feeling of a fresher’s week club night.