Their debut album reached number 10 in the UK Album Charts. They performed at huge festivals from Reading and Leeds to Bonnaroo. Earlier this year, they won the BRIT award for British Breakthrough act. Their relatable lyrics are all over Tumblr. Catfish and the Bottlemen is a band that any indie-loving music fan will fall for right away. While it sounds like they’re fairly popular, they are still under the mainstream radar. Listening to them still carries that sense like you found this amazing band before anyone else did.
CATB are from across the pond – North Wales, to be exact – and their main audience still seem to be based there, for the time being anyway. They’ve been featured on BBC Radio 1 recently, but haven’t had too much of a voice in the U.S. yet. Vocalist Ryan Evan “Van” McCann and guitarist Billy Bibby started the band nearly 10 years ago. Bassist Benjamin Blakeway and drummer Jon Barr joined shortly after. In 2010, Barr left and the position was filled by Bob Ball. After their first album, The Balcony, released two years ago, Bibby left to form another band and was replaced by Johnny “Bondy” Bond. They got their start performing in parking lots and garages and worked their way up.
Most upcoming bands struggle with finding their sound and making a fanbase, but CATB had a distinct quality that attracted many. In 2013, they signed with Communion Records. That was followed by the singles “Homesick,” “Rango” and “Pacifier.” Considering that they are their first singles, they’re a huge success. McCann’s vocals are raspier in their earlier material compared to their latest album, but it’s obvious that they’re comfortable in how they sound. It’s a Vampire Weekend meets Arcade Fire indie vibe. A year later they signed with Island Records and released their biggest single to date, “Kathleen.” If you live in Arizona, you might have heard this on 93.3 ALTAZ or any other alternative radio station. It was produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele) and was number one on MTV’s hottest tracks in April 2014.
All four of those songs are featured on their first album, The Balcony. As mentioned before, the album reached number 10 on the U.K. Album Charts. Six months after the release, it was certified gold in the U.K. In the U.S., it ranked number 8 in Billboard’s Alternative albums.
Last Friday, May 27, CATB released their second album, The Ride, through Island Records and with help from producer Dave Sardy (Brand New, Fall Out Boy, The Rolling Stones). McCann’s vocals are softer, but they carry the same indie feel that will make old fans happy while also attracting new listeners. It’s more alternative rock than pop, keeping the band underground and feeling like a secret. With lyrics like Oxygen’s overrated / I don’t even need to breathe (“Oxygen”), the songs are still illustrative and colorful with the word choice. Personally, that’s what caught my attention with their first album. “Kathleen” has a catchy rhythm and chorus that gave it some attention from radios, but the other songs are more about memorable one-liners than catchy hooks.
The best way I have heard it described as is “swashbuckling” by whoever writes the iTunes descriptions. Swashbuckling is defined as “engaging in daring and romantic adventures with ostentatious bravado or flamboyance.” I loved the word too much not to share. The first half of the album is loud, and I have the urge to sing along to every song at the top of my lungs. The phrase “carpe diem” comes to mind when I listen to songs like “7” and “Soundcheck.” It’s the kind of music played in packed underground venues where everyone is standing too close to each other but no one minds. The second half is romantic, like they would be part of the soundtrack to our daydreams. “Glasgow” is dreaming about how much fun it would be to go out with this girl again, being drunk and singing in bars. The closing song of the album, “Outside,” picks up the pace but it still about not being able to resist the girl.
In support of their album, CATB are currently touring parts of Europe and America. They’re about to begin their fourth leg of The Ride Tour, visiting the Northern and Eastern states of America. For more information regarding the tour, click here.
Videos, photos, lyrics and merchandise are available at CATB’s website.
Facebook: Catfish and the Bottlemen
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