Brooklyn quintet, I Am The Avalanche were over last week, pimping their second album, Avalanche United. It had been five years since former Movielife man, Vinnie Caruana had made it over to these shores so we popped down to catch some punk rock goodness.
Six things we learned when we saw I Am The Avalanche in Camden:
1) Much like their contemporaries Great Cynics, tonight’s openers Apologies, I Have None have lately expanded their sound from the troubadour stylings of their earliest recordings to incorporate the full electric din of amplified instrumentation and by proxy richer, more textured arrangements which benefit their line of storytelling punk no end. Playing early and to a muted crowd they are a little rough around the edges but never short on enthusiasm and ingenuity, if they carry on this way 2012 should be a good year for them.
2) Pop-punk critics often point to it as a genre big on energy but low on ideas and that assessment neatly sums up Connecticut quintet Hostage Calm who huff and puff but struggle to deliver anything truly engaging. They are hampered by having a vocalist who, whilst full of bouncing stage presence, has a voice that is at best adequate and at worst not even the finest set of vocal chords in his own band – better on record than they are here tonight, you sense that there is a little work to be done before the UK embraces them.
3) I Am The Avalanche’s Vinnie Caruana is, of course, best known for fronting Long Island mob The Movielife and IATA have definitely benefited from the goodwill afforded a man who was once a member of such a well loved band – Wednesday night ten days before Christmas and the Barfly is ‘dead busy’.
4) Yet the success is far from just reflected glory, IATA are their own band, with their own sound – Caruana’s curled lip Brooklyn snarl has improved immeasurably since his Movielife days and tracks from new album Avalanche United go down a storm tonight, notably ‘Brooklyn Dodgers’ a song as quintessentially New York as it is possible to be and with a hook as catchy as you will hear all year.
5) Indeed, it is the relentless sense of melody and ear for a cracking chorus that make IATA a genuinely compelling band, this is real heart on the sleeve stuff as song titles like ‘My Second Restraining Order’ will attest. Caruana is undoubtedly the star of the show bounding around with an enormous smile on his face and thanking all and sundry for coming out mid-week to see his band but the musicians behind him provide a superlative backdrop for his larking about, marrying indie- infused moments with heavier sections all delivered with expert tightness without ever seeming clinical.
6) Judging from the gaggle of shrieking blondes stood near the bar IATA have picked up some of You Me at Six‘s crowd, but for those looking to take the next step and explore what lies beyond Wembley headliners, they are a natural band to move on to, possessed of more sophisticated song-writing and lyrical content but retaining a pop nous that crawls its way into your brain and refuses to leave. Having held the crowd in their hand for the duration of tonight’s set, it would be no surprise to see IATA climbing the ladder to bigger and better achievements, and that would be no bad thing.