the_growlers.jpgImage Courtesy of The Growlers Website

City Club (Cult Records)

The Growlers

It has been about a month since The Growlers released their fifth LP, City Club (2016), and I have probably listened to it on repeat about 100 times (that is, sadly, not an exaggeration). This release was highly anticipated after the band signed on with Cult Records, the label of Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes). After announcing this collaboration back in mid-July, multiple singles were put out leading up to the Sept. 30 album release. 

Upon my initial listen of City Club (2016), I was taken back by how much influence Casablancas appeared to have—I am a huge fan of the lo-fi, psychedelic surf rock that the The Growlers so perfectly encompass and did not want that to change. However, the more I listened to the newly released tunes, the more I started to appreciate the change and notice a lot of the band’s familiar sounds amongst the synth and electronic tones. At this point, a month later, I can now say City Club (2016) is one of my favourite albums this band has released.

The track “I’ll Be Around” was one of the first singles released and has the catchiest electronic beat to it—similar to the sounds of the band Django Django. This tune also has an official music video put out by Cult Records, showcasing the death and resurrection of lead singer Brooks Nielson and a cameo from the ‘stood-up’ Grim Reaper. Another amazing track from City Club (2016) is definitely “Dope on a Rope.” This song in particular stands out amongst the rest because it sounds like the old-school Growlers. The guitar passages have the familiar ‘beach-goth’ feel, but their mixing with synth tones adds a nice surprise. 

The band also explores exchanging vocals between Brooks and guitarist Matt Taylor in the song “Too Many Times.” This highlighted the singing talent of other band members, which has never been done before on their LPs. Lastly, be sure to check out the song “World Unglued” for epic garage-surf guitar riffs and lyrics that will be stuck in your head FOREVER—but they’re so good that that shouldn’t be a problem.

Be sure to have a listen! City Club (2016) is an amazing album that showcases the changes The Growlers are making because of the influence of Casablancas, but still keeps true to their roots of being ‘beach-goth.’

- Michaela Fuchs




Image Courtesy of Two Door Cinema Club's Website

Gameshow (Parlophone)

Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club have a lot to answer for. Their brilliant debut, Tourist History (2010), shot them not only to the forefront of British music but also saw them pioneer the now-common concept of an indie-rock band with a strong enough pop streak to break into the charts. Though their success certainly eased the path for the emergence of more rubbish bands to toss atop the ever-growing pile of indie landfill, it also paved the way to success for similarly-inclined artists such as Alt-J, Bastille and (unfortunately) The 1975, both at home and across the pond. However, after a three-year hiatus, the Bangor band’s latest LP Gameshow (2016) sees them throw convention out of the window to try their hands at disco. 

On this groovy yet personal third album, the band lay bare their relationships with each other and the effects that touring and recognition have had on them. It would have been easy to come back from their break sounding disenfranchised by the music industry, considering the fracturing of the band’s friendship during their tour supporting second album Beacon (2012). However, this is not the case. Though the disco vibes of Gameshow (2016) may leave long-term fans perplexed since it’s a massive change in style from their previous material, its originality shines through and allows the band to reinvent themselves through musical catharsis.

Alex Trimble’s ever-stunning falsetto vocals really shine through here, as the music relies more upon his voice than the sharp guitar riffs that have often characterised Two Door Cinema Club material in the past. The album finds strength when the band adds its trademark sound to a new style of music. For example, on the FIFA 17-featured lead single “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” and on the visceral title track “Gameshow,” Trimble addresses the triviality and falseness that can too easily plague band life with his multi-faceted cry of “I’m a girl, I’m a ghost, I’m a gameshow.” 

Though the band’s new sound means for often fascinating variety, it also allows for some weaker, relatively boring sounding minimalist disco, needlessly replacing traditional guitar with electronic alternatives. However, when they get it right, the result can be brilliant, as exemplified by album highlights “Lavender” and “Je Viens De La.” Overall then, Gameshow (2016) is the celebration of the return of a band on the brink of self-destruction. Two Door Cinema Club’s growth and metamorphosis is evident, and though it may have some fans wishing for simpler days, Alex, Kev and Sam’s triumphant return proves to the doubters and the posers that they’re back in the game. Gameshow (2016) feels like they never left.

Two Door Cinema Club play at REBEL (the venue formerly known as Sound Academy) on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

- Jordan Balls

comments powered by Disqus