I remember going to see my favourite band play live for the first time. 15th May 2015: Arcane Roots at the Tunbridge Wells Forum – a humble and bijou venue, definitively intimate. This night would also be my introduction to Galley Circus. As the identical twins, Daniel and Graeme Ross took to the stage my first impression was how remarkable a set up this was. Upon reflection, it makes perfect sense – who better to knuckle down with and make music than someone who knows you better than anyone else?
A memory that lasts from this performance was my friend leaning into me and exclaiming “how the f**k does he do that?” in response to Daniel juggling keys with his right hand, guitar with his left, all the while belting out his vocals. Whilst this calibre of technical proficiency is certainly a standout aspect of the Gallery Circus sound, in my opinion, what defines it is the concrete chemistry between these two brothers. Equally important to the complexities of their music is the way in which both band members can accommodate these embellishments. They never missed a beat.
Time flies. Over two years later and Gallery Circus have made their way back into my ears with the release of their first ever EP – Chi-Town Dogs. Named after Chicago’s famous hot dog style, the Ross’ “wanted (their) first official record to reference how and where (they) started”. Despite hailing from Newcastle, the brothers decided to migrate to the USA and put their own spin on the American dream. Inhabiting the DIY punk scene of Chicago would surely prove to be an invaluable baptism of fire, it was clear that it would benefit these guys with a wealth of experience when it came to playing and producing music.
This is a notion that reflects throughout the record. From the inception of Holland On Fire, we are greeted with sauntering riffs slathered in a rich fuzz below which the percussion serves to amplify and progress the songs on with an authoritative drive. This dynamic carries through each of the four tracks on offer. The inclusion of keys in their setup is pivotal as, without it, there is the possibility that the listener may get bored of the consistent riff heavy guitar and swaggering drum beat… *cough* Royal Blood *cough*. The EP’s titular track and the newest single, Sugar, both implement the keyboard to great effect.
There is certainly room to grow for Gallery Circus. The fact that every song on this record is fundamentally well-written means that the EP, as a whole, is a great listen that will bring enjoyment to listeners across a number of genres. However, there isn’t currently that killer hook – the one that lives in your skull, gnawing away at your brain, provoking you to listen to that song on repeat. However, I’m confident that this will come in time. It’s early doors for these guys and bearing that in mind, Chi-Town Dogs is a cracking first effort.
Chi-Town Dogs releases on 4th August through Killing Moon.