I’m not sure if their name is in some way a homage to Echo & The Bunnymen, whether there’s some deep and meaningful reason behind it, or whether it’s just a playful moniker with the purpose to confuse. But what’s in a name? I saw this band at the NME Award-winning Swn Festival in Cardiff in October 2013, and it felt like it did 11 years or so ago when The Libertines first clattered onto the scene with their Albion dreams. More clean-cut than Pete and Carl and co, they could be as big as The Libs if they continue the good work.
Date: February 27, 2014
Venue: Rock City, Basement
The best thing to come out of Llandudno since ever, Catfish and The Bottlemen are four young black-clad denizens of a genre known as indie. Just indie. No made up genres lazily spliced together, but indie in its most authentic, organic, purist form.
Think a post-Libs The Cribs, with catchy hooks, chugging riffs and intelligent lyrics. Think music for the night; dark, but with an edgy, 6 Music appeal.
Dressed head to toe in their customary black outfits, a mash of hair and exuberance, they begin with a bombastic whir that morphs into perhaps their best song, Rango, a track which was been Zane Lowed and Steve Lamacqed to death.
It begs the question where does the gig go from here if they’re confident/arrogant enough to chuck out their belter straight away? The answer is an appetising taster for what will be the songs that will eventually make up their scintillating debut record.
That Cribs reference is heard best on Pacifier, coming on like a lost Cribs classic with wiry guitars marrying well with the brilliantly-named Van McCann’s northern brogue (he’s not Welsh, he’s actually from the Sheffield area).
“This song’s gonna be the next Bond theme”, proclaims Van ambitiously, before Sideliner begins its thudding Bond-esque opening before launching into a splash of reverb and an undulating metallic surge.
Elsewhere, Homesick begins like a Paul Simon number, all Afro-beat vibes and understated rhythms, before escalating into a full-on indie classic worthy of The Libertines.
Night music, purist indie values, and a name that asks all sorts of questions. A conundrum, but one worth unfathoming. These Bottlemen could deliver.