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CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN

★★★

TIGHT, SEDUCTIVE ROCK TUNES ON THEIR DEBUT ALBUM

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By Charlie David Page
17th September 2014
You're never going to forget a band called Catfish and the Bottlemen - and though the name might have something to do with it, they're not too shabby with their tunes either. There's heavy overtones of electric guitar, dominant drums and husky lead vocals, assembled together to tell stories of life, love and lassitude.

If it all sounds a little like Australian rock of the 1990s and early 2000s, then you'd be right. That's because lead singer Van McCann spent a hefty portion of his youth road-tripping around Australia, which has no doubt played some influence on his music stylings. Catfish and the Bottlemen formed in North Wales in 2010, and last year signed to the impressive Communion Records (home to indie's finest including Mikhael Paskalev, Daughter and Ben Howard). Their music has brought them hoards of fans in a short time in the UK, leading them to play 30-plus festivals this year, including the Reading and Leeds festivals in England and the Governors Ball in New York City.

CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN - COCOON

With such a steadily escalating trajectory, it's definitely time to get Catfish and the Bottlemen on your radar, and the release of their debut album 'The Balcony' is the perfect excuse to do it. The LP paints a portrait of the band's everyday life in the small town of Llandudno, North Wales - the mundanity, the sexual frustration, the failed relationships, the vulgar language.

McCann himself has said the success of their music "[is] about crafting choruses that can pin you to a wall", and the four boys do a superb job of this; not a single moment is wasted throughout the entire album. Opener 'Homesick' starts quite lucidly, before introducing an incendiary refrain solid enough to stop you in your tracks. McCann tears up the chorus of 'Kathleen' with raspy vocals, as drummer Bob Hall lets loose.

Personal favourite 'Cocoon' is an utterly impressive and addictive piece of indie rock, with sentimental lyrics ("I cocoon round your shoulders / When you're half cut, and you're frozen / And you've got that visible breathin' / You're dependent on me again") that stand apart from much of the rest of the album, and a tune crafted to perfection that you'll be humming to yourself weeks later.

With such a steadily escalating trajectory, it's definitely time to get Catfish and the Bottlemen on your radar.

There's barely a moment of reprieve as you continue through the track listing - in fact, it's not until over half-way through that the guys try out an acoustic sound with 'Hourglass', as well as some half-decent harmonies. Through to the end of the 37-minute album, its efficiency and momentum are a little like watching an express train pass you by.

There's no doubt these guys will go far; their music is tailor-made for a wild live performance. Their tunes are tight and seductive, making 'The Balcony' an easily repeatable album. If this is a debut, I can't wait to see how they'll progress from here. My tip is definitely to get on the bandwagon early, because it's only a matter of time before they're playing sold-out tours in Australia.

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FAST FACTS
BAND: Catfish And The Bottlemen
MEMBERS: Van McCann - Vocals/guitar
Elaine Bond - Guitar
Benji Blakeway - Bass
Bob Hall - Drums
FORMED: 2007
FROM: North Wales
SOUND: Indie Rock
WEBSITE: Www.catfishandthebottlemen.com
FACEBOOK: catfishandthebottlemen
TWITTER: @thebottlemen
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