Formed back in 2005, whilst Cowtown may have changed line-up and musical aesthetic, their love of making and playing music has never diminished. In the beginning they were firmly entrenched in a grunge mentality, but over the years their sound has morphed into a mix of post-punk and new wave; with an added electronic twist. Whilst the Leeds trio may have progressed from playing house parties and squats, you can tell from their music that this is where their hearts truly lie.
Dudes Vs Bad Dudes is the band’s third album and marks somewhat of a landmark in their evolution. In 2007 they released their début Pine-Cone Express which was a sporadic jumble of energetic noise, and whilst innovative and fresh, often seemed to lack focus and direction. Their sound has progressed over the proceeding years into something that still retains the vibrancy and urgency of their early work, but feels more mature and complete.
Don’t for one second think this means they’ve eschewed a hands-on approach and ‘sold-out’. Far from it, Cowtown are a band who thrive on playing live; honing their music through devotion to their craft. They get their kicks from creating the music they love and travelling around the UK playing all manner of venues. This enthusiasm is evident throughout the entirety of this superbly realised third album.
As a collection of songs, Dudes vs Bad Dudes is a surprisingly varied array of styles and sounds; all variations on a post-punk theme. ‘Ski School’ could easily belong in Talking Heads’ back catalogue, whilst ‘ I’ve Heard Enough’ feels like an unstoppable force of nature; a perpetual musical juggernaut. ‘Nightbeats’ is a pulsating beast of a track, coursing with kinetic vortex of febrile intent; easily the highlight of the album and a song any band would be proud to call their own.
Cowtown love to party and their début smacks of a band who enjoy making music and want to share this simple pleasure with others. Their influences stem from a wide variety of musical sources; a reflection the eclectic musical tastes of the band. ‘Animals’ is a cabaret of infectious joy; female vocals offering a brief counterpoint to the male domination. ‘Monotone Face’ stutters fitfully into life before morphing into a contortion of coy playfulness; an 80s electronic pageant.
Whilst other bands are content to blithely plod on creating infinite reincarnations of their past, Cowtown are a band on the move. Dudes vs Bad Dudes is an impressive journey through a plethora or music styles, demanding your attention and making you long for more. Not only have the band produced a record of the highest quality, they have managed to create one which is pure unadulterated fun to listen to.
Dudes vs Bad Dudes is released on 20th April through Audacious Art Experiment Records. http://cowtown.bandcamp.com/album/dudes-vs-bad-dudes