Twin brothers Daniel and Graeme Ross comprise two halves of Gallery Circus: the bluesy Newcastle rockers whose namesake is a legendary Chicago bar known for its eclectic open mic nights. While well-regarded for their energetic live shows, debut EP ‘Chi-Town Dogs’ represents the band’s first real test as recording artists.
‘Holland On Fire’ slouches in with dirty guitars and tales of riotous Chicago nights. “Oh Logan’s burning tonight, Milwaukee Ave is alive” wails Daniel, backed by distorted guitars and Graeme’s “Ooh”s of support. Guitars are cranked up for the bridge before making a piercing descent into the final chorus.
The titular track is a jazz-bar-meets-rock-show; piano and percussion set the rhythm, then huge guitar riffs buzz through as Daniel’s falsetto channels Brendon Urie. You get a sense of their live appeal- it’s difficult not to dance along to the infectious refrain.
The femme fatale trope is rolled out for ‘Sugar’, an (admittedly) catchy track full of swaggering, chunky guitars and stereotypical rock n’ roll descriptions. The track has potential, but often feels like it’s missing something. Perhaps a more definitive chorus or dramatic musical structure could have helped.
‘The Flood’ provides a high-energy finale, depicting the brothers’ sheer panic the night they survived a hotel fire. Incorporating gentle piano and forlorn vocals, alongside multi-layered guitar lines and pounding drums, it perfectly captures the volatility of the fire.
Gallery Circus are clearly talented but it’s questionable whether the magic of their live show translates well to recording. Fans of the duo’s live sound will love its rawness; listeners who prefer more polished performances might find aspects jarring. It’s a strong debut but Gallery Circus are unlikely to make much impact on the genre much with ‘Chi-Town Dogs’.
‘Chi-Town Dogs’ by Gallery Circus is out now on Killing Moon.
Words by Clare O’Shea (@Clare_OShea)