The Balcony is the Debut album for four piece Welsh rock band Catfish and the Bottleman and was released in September last year. The band have recently released Homesick, the first track from the album, as the latest single at the start of this year and are heading to every major festival across summer 2015 including T in the Park, Reading and Leeds and have just been announced to play Glastonbury.
What immediately sets Catfish and The bottlemen apart from the array of indie rock guitar bands already on the scene is that they seem to have shunned what is assumed to be the typical conventions when it comes to this particular genre. In this I mean if you look at the indie rock greats like Kasabian, Kings of leon, The Killers e.t.c they all release tracks that are roughly 2-3 and sometimes 4 mins long. However, what makes this band and this album so different is that there songs are significantly shorter but are still up there with some of the classics and the greats.
what also makes the band even more unusal is that there sound on this album is an entire world away from there intial pathway into the music industry of covering songs by the legendary Beatles. However, In listening to this album one could compare Van Mccans vocal style to that of Tom Meighan from Kasabian or that of Luke Pritchard from The Kooks, although that is up for debate by hardcore fans.
Personally, for a debut album of an indie group this is up there with some of the best including Kings of Leons most recent album Mechanical Bull and The Killers album Day and Age released a world away in 2008. This is also one of those albums in which there are so many good songs included on it that it is almost impossible to pick a favourite or try and claim there is a bad song amongst them.
If I had to pick three songs that stood out the most to me off this album I would probably go for ;
Homesick (Track 1): this track stands out to me first of all because the opening riff strikes a cord I particularly like how the bass not is held throughout the chorus like it is in some of the great and classic rock songs. This track is the epitome of the phase short but sweet as although it is only 2:26 in length it makes up for it in content. Van Mccans vocal ability in this song is particularly powerful in the choruses which also come with great indie songs and is also in harmony with his amazing guitar skill. I also like how the song is particularly reserved throughout until the very end as together with the held down bass line throughout this reminds me of the legendary queen song We will Rock You which was also known for being short and sweet but one of the greats and to me this song could potentially by on the same par.
Cocoon (Track 3): Again this song stands out in particularly because the opening riff is one of those killers that can be told a mile off and makes this track instantly recognisable solely based on that. Similarly to Homesick this track is another short but sweet ditty but makes up for the shortness in its content packing everything from furious angsty lyrics to killer guitar riffs towards the end quarter of the song which I particularly like. If theres one thing I do like about this band it is there song arrangement especially the placement of those killer riffs and how the build up to it throughout. I also like how Van Mccan is reserved vocally until the chorus of the song then releases the power that should be there in a great rock song. .
Pacifier (Track 5): This song I particularly like the arrangement especially the drumstick tap at the very start just before the killer guitar riff kicks in. Similar to cocoon this song is instantly recognisable based on its opening riff alone however personally this is one of the best songs on the album and will probably be an absolute tune when played live. I like how everything in this track is reserved until the chorus and then unleashes the power in the vocals and in the guitar I also like the build up the riffs at the very end of the song which is one of the reasons why I think this is song is so good. Out of all of the songs on the album Pacifier is the longest at 4 mins this seems to conform to the usual indie rock conventions but ultimately every about this song is too good not to love and as a lover of guitar music and indie rock it is probably up there with some of the greats.
Overall, I think this album is a fantastic debut for this band especially as guitar bands and indie rock bands are hard to come by in a world where pop, electronic dance music and house music is seemingly the way forward. Personally, I think this is just the beginning of this band and hopefully they will go on to be as big as the likes of Kings of Leon and Kasabian.
Will they top this album though? who knows but I cant wait to see what these guys have in store next and will definitely be getting a ticket to there next show in Newcastle.