Did you know that Johnny Marr almost ended up on the soccer field instead of playing in a band?
It’s true. Shortly before meeting a young malcontent named Steven, he went through tryouts with a pro team. There but for the grace of marginal talent, we instead received the Smiths.
Sure, Morrissey probably would have gone on to be a star anyways. The man certainly wanted it bad enough. Or perhaps he would have kept on writing band reviews in some squalid Manchester flat until the money ran out. Ending up broken and unheard.
Either way, it’s doubtful that Catfish and the Bottlemen would sound the way they do if Marr had gone on to pro sports instead of shredding. Morrissey may be a rock god, but Marr is what made the Smiths good. And his subsequent efforts only got better after they broke up.
Frontman Van McCann shares brash undertones with his forerunners. Coming up from a pretty startling level of poverty, he’s hard to dislike — it’s pretty fucking apparent that he’s having a blast playing his heart out, and you can’t help but root for this kid who just seems thrilled beyond measure to own a couple of guitars and some amps.
Musically, this is a band that that has also benefited greatly from the lessons of Oasis, who of course also owe royalty checks to the musical ancestors aforementioned a few paragraphs up. Catfish and the Bottlemen fuse anthems with boyish enthusiasm. While the guitars are pure Marr, McCann recalls something more like Pete Doherty, vocally. The lyrics by and large dwell in distaff musings and frustrated ennui, with a weary disdain for drink and drugs — which is something that this brand of rock usually celebrates. Not to the point of abstention, mind you, but it’s noticeable if you spend some time reading the foldout.
As a side note, Ewan McGregor makes an appearance in one of their videos. It’s a bit of a jolt to see the kid from Trainspotting twenty years later juxtaposed alongside lads who could well qualify for a casting call if some director pushed through a remake next week.
The group’s touring for a new album, entitled “The Ride.” Signed by an Indie consortium of sorts, they appear to be forging a path guided by their own particular stars. That’s plenty respectable. An if none of this is anything we haven’t heard before? McCann’s joy at sharing the room with a crowd sells it. It’s an endearing group, and the middling sized mass of kids gathered at the NorVa to hear them this week was filled with love for this music. I expect their crowds will continue to grow in the next year or so.
As I think about it, most of the songs I adore are a result of music mixed with moments. And If I am not entirely overwhelmed by this specific sound, maybe it’s just that I haven’t had the quite right three or four minutes to experience it in. Certainly the mostly teen/post-teen audience gathered here was fully immersed in the groove. It’s entirely probable that a decade or three from now they’ll look back in wonder at this record in the same way I think of albums from the Hoodogurus or the Connells, and smile a secret smile.
In any event, the music is good enough for me to recommend that you pull it up on Spotify or whatever.
I mean, Obi Wan Kenobi loves this band. So check ’em out. What the fuck else do you need to give it a spin?
Hey!!! Pay attention to this! Local Band Ripped Off!!!
From Deathhouse Blues:
Yesterday about $2,500 worth of recording equipment was stolen from us, including 2 Presonus FireStudio 8 channel interfaces, 2 Shure 58s, 3 Shure 57s, a Shure SH55, a Roland TM-2 drum trigger module, a Roland RT-30K drum trigger, and a ton of XLR and 1/4 inch cables. If you know of anything or see these suddenly show up in a pawn shop/instrument store in or around Norfolk, VA we’re offering a reward for these things.
We’ve filed a police report, but it really sucks because we’re in the middle of recording a live album AND about to record our 2nd LP, both of which we were planning to print on vinyl. In the meantime we’re operating under the assumption that these items are lost forever. To try to replace these items, we need to come up with some cash, so we’re also offering you our debut CD, “House of Scotch” for $5 (including US shipping).
So, if a slimesucking bottomfeeder offers you some music eq from within the folds of his mold ridden trenchcoat on the corner of some side alley? Think of Deathhouse Blues and thump the lout, eh?
In the meantime, hit ’em up on their Facebook if you’d like to help out with a CD purchase to get these local Blues hounds back on their feet.