Working at my last job, you always got a little bit worried when you drew a gig shift. Truth be told, the bands the venue hosted always fell into weird, not-quite-good, categories, a sub-genre the staff define with the over-arching term “catty-band”.
‘Catty-bands’ could have a variety of different sounds. They could be an odd, cult-y attraction with a dedicated fan base that could tell you every lyric of every song and list every venue the band had ever played in. They could be ageing metallers whose best days were behind them. Or they could be the kind of band that the kids like.
It is the latter I refer to when I say that Breathe Carolina are a total catty-band.
Truth be told, I seriously doubt that these guys have a problem with the fact that their music skews young. In fact, I would imagine they positively embrace it. The real problem is, it just makes me feel really old.
At 25, it’s not like I’m ancient, but this kind of music would never have flown with my generation of rock-music fans. It would have been far too pop for us. And it would have been far too rock for the pop fans – the minute they heard the screaming and guitars on second track ‘Wooly’, they’d have turned it off.
It seems that today, a strange nether-world between the two has sprung up – perfect for a generation weaned on the joint influences of MySpace pop-punk, electro-rock and The X-Factor. The world is fickle, downloads rule and you too can have chart success – and it is the latter that “Hell Is What You Make It”, the third album from the Colorado (Coloradian?) autotune-botherers, seems particularly geared towards.
But wait, believe it or not, this is not a typical Kenneth-wails-on-a-band review: I actually kind of liked it, completely despite myself. In fact, when ‘Wooly’ started blasting through my speakers – a decent 3 minute 53 second burst of screaming and guitars, interspersed with a cool dance beat – I was actually beginning to worry about how I would justify liking this to myself (as if you hadn’t noticed I’m a snob).
And although the rest of the album never quite lives up to this opening salvo – by the time ‘Last Night (Vegas)’ kicks in all pretence of rock is forgotten – and there is a severe lack of guitars and far too much auto-tune, the album is nothing less than bearable throughout.
Now if I think that, and you consider the fact that I am far from the target audience, then you have to believe that the fanbase – who, with all due respect, probably aren’t the most difficult to impress group of music-lovers – are going to eat the damn thing up.
Whether we like it or not, we’re going to be hearing more about these guys.
(Reviewers note: I do not recommend watching any of their music videos. Doing so almost destroyed any goodwill I held toward them).
(Released through Fearless Records on July 25th 2011)
Kenneth John Porteous