Frontman and guitarist Van McCann, bassist Benji Blakeway, lead guitarist Johnny Bond, and drummer Bob Hall make up the explosive Llandudno four-piece known as Catfish and The Bottlemen, a name McCann grabbed from an Australian busker whom he admired in his early years. With a debut album comprised of head banging guitar riffs and melodic vocals, it is no surprise that it reached number 10 in the iTunes U.K charts, leaving many fans wondering if it will be as successful in the United States.
Introducing only 3 brand new songs, including Hourglass, a raw one-take acoustic recording that shows off McCann’s song writing talent, could have been risky, but this album was strongly anticipated. Homesick, the first track on the album, jumps from somber lyrics and light guitar to a full blown and aggressive pulse — the epitome of a young relationship as McCann’s vocals erupt “I said I’m only looking at for you, she said it’s obvious that’s a lie”.
Following Homesick is Kathleen, a lead track from their EP “Kathleen and The Other Three”, continuing with the relateable and angsty lyrics, “I gotta give it to you, you give me problems” — certainly a tune for anyone to shout along to while driving, probably the reason why so many radio stations have been giving this track fair play. Their new single Cocoon is a build up of Hall’s heavy and impressive drumming which leads the entire track with skillful guitar riffs and an expert bassline, proposes a “fuck it” attitude, with a breakdown in the middle before the intensity is built back up (which is a style that seems to work well for this band). Business and 26, two of the albums brand new tracks, offer an Arctic Monkeys rock n roll vibe which is just as impressive as the studio tracks when performed live. Finishing off the album is Tyrants, a song McCann only wrote at the age of 14 and was included on the album as a thank you to the loyal fans who have been with them for the past seven years. Unnecessary, yet expertly done, the band chose to re-record the track, slightly slower and tuned down a notch, striking a more mature approach as loaded guitar strumming and fierce drums send the album off before [humorously] being abnormally cut short from the album.
While NME rated the album a 4/10, anyone with an ear for proper rock music is aware of the top quality that this album beholds. Catfish and The Bottlemen’s debut album The Balcony is widely available now in the U.K. and will be released early January 2015 in the U.S.
To learn more about the album, watch our video interview below:
Review by Colleen Cleary