College Rock Returns! The Front Bottoms!
College Rock is a term that was used to describe alternative rock before the term “alternative” came into common usage, because it was played on student-run university and college campus radio stations located in the United States and Canada in the 1980s. The stations’ playlists were often created by students who avoided the mainstream rock played on commercial radio stations. The bands of this category combined the experimentation of post-punk and New wave with a more melodic pop style and an underground sensibility. It is not necessarily a genre term, but there do exist some common aesthetics among college rock bands. Artists such as R.E.M., U2, The Cure, Camper Van Beethoven, The Smiths, XTC and The Replacements became some of the better-known examples in the mid 1980s. It also embraced the 90’s and noughties ‘Acoustic Rock’ of Jeff Buckley, Radiohead & Ryan Adams…
Many might argue that the entire Seattle scene of Nirvana, Pearl jam, Soundgarden et all was born of this religion just as Stipe and co began to lose theirs! Even Green Day and Jimmy Eat World owe a debt to the ‘scene‘ in fact any band that has picked up a guitar in the last 25 years that has not had the ‘metal’ tags around it’s neck has one foot stuck in the genre… The modern age has seen CMJ (College Music Journal) take up the strain of the pressure placed upon artists to gain coverage outside that secure mainstream bands such as Against Me, Rise Against and Gaslight Anthem owe just as much to the ‘College Rock’ tag, Tramps like us may have been Born To Run, or Born To Lose but we were Born To Be Heard!
So imagine my suprise when out of the blue i hit upon a you tube clip of an act that’s doing an acoustic set in front of some branded banners and a couple of ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ that make me think I should be paying more attention, so I click over to the next video on the list and it becomes obvious that I need to go to this bands website and social media outlets to find out more! That more comes in the shape of finding out that not only were this band on tour, but after wrapping up their US dates with a headline show at the iconic Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, the band will head overseas for a Fall headline tour throughout Europe playing my favourite ‘City Of Night’ Liverpool in 24 hours time, not only that, but it’s the opening night of a brand new club in the city ‘Korova’
Korova was created in Liverpool through a joint venture between in September 2005. The concept for the venue was based upon Ladytron’s club night EVOL. The original Korova, located on Fleet Street, appeared on the album cover for the Arctic Monkeys first album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. The cover depicts Chris McClure – a friend of the band – in the basement of the venue posing for a photo to mark the band’s good memories of Liverpool. On 17 April 2010, 60 firefighters fought a major blaze, The severity of the fire saw Korova suffering significant water damage.
The band in question by the way are The Front Bottoms who are an American acoustic-indie-punk band originating from New Jersey, United States. Their name comes from a line of dialogue in Sexy Beast. They are a two-piece band based out of Bergen County, NJ. The band was formed in 2006 and originally had three members: Brian Sella (vocals, guitar, lyricist), Brian Uychich (keyboard, vocals) and Mathew Uychich (drums). However, as of fall 2010, Brian Uychich left the band to concentrate on school full-time. He then started a new band known as Zak Spade and The Love Enemies, of which Sella and Mat Uychich are alleged members.
Their new hook-filled, anthemic, and conversational album Talon of the Hawk was released on May21, 2013 via seminal indie label Bar/None Records. It debuted on seven different Billboard charts (#144 Top Current Albums, #3 Top New Artist, #2 Alternative New Artist, #30 Independent Record Label, #97 Overall Digital Albums, #18 LP Vinyl Albums, #32 Current Alternative Albums). American Songwriter called it “…epic and unruly all at once…”, Punknews suggests you should “Let yourself find your new favorite lyrics”, and Alternative Press assures that “The Front Bottoms will soundtrack your life until it’s like you’ve never been without them”. The Front Bottoms self-titled debut still ranks as one of the most positively-reviewed albums of the last two years, garnering major attention from NPR, LA Times, MTV, Huffington Post, Filter,DRUM, Aquarian Weekly, AOL, Star-Ledger, etc., propelling the band to tour with Bad Books, Say Anything, New Found Glory, Motion City Soundtrack, Dashboard Confessional, among many others.
So back to the show! Walking into Korova it’s crystal clear it’s not ready, the paint isn’t dry, the bar hasn’t been stocked proper, it feels more like a NYC loft than a Lvrpl basement but it matters not as the vibe in the room is one of ‘right here-right now’ with a crowd of scenesters that are hooked on Rock n’ Roll, some of them just want to be ‘seen‘ but when The Front Buttons hit the stage it’s obvious that they are here for one thing and one thing only!
The band are right into it, flowing like a river from ice in the summer heat, they have that mid atlantic feel of a band that could be from the states, could be british and end up being ‘American-English’ and if you were to ask ten people where they thought this band was from, you would get ten different answers, yet all would be in agreement with exactly where this band was going! I know not any of the songs they are playing except for the two that I saw as online clips, yet there is a crowd that not only knows every word but is singing it at the top of their lungs as if their life depended on it, we even have a ‘fist throwing mutha-fucker’ in the crowd who at every opportunity throws it like a mutha!
The thing that become evident is that this crowd is young and hungry for their own (My) generation of guitar music, yet the songs resonate with the 90’s crowd that hark for the Cobain days to return and then those (like me) who remember when we really was in a ‘Radio Free Europe’ and there it is, Modern Day College Rock! music that has something to say, it has an edge BUT it has melody and this makes The Buttons right at The Front! 24hrs later and the Lp I bought at the show has not been out of the player all day and the songs now sound like ‘old friends’ while still being ‘brand new’
This is a great ‘Retro-Modern’ band that’s got a long road ahead with shades firmly on for their bright future. Now if we can only convince the Radio people that College Rock is back from black and ready to become major unit shifters then we really would be talking, but it was hard first time around, I don’t envisage it being any easier now, but I for one am going to try!
The Front Bottoms are Brian Sella (vocals/guitar), Mathew Uychich (drums), Tom Warren (bass), and Ciaran O’Donnel (keys/trumpet/guitar).