Charlywood’s self-titled sophomore album is authentic, high energy and really really clever

Indie pop rock band Charlywood is the first Vienna-based band I interviewed when I moved to Austria last year.

I discovered the band on YouTube with the music video for their single ‘Playback, and liked it so much I made a point of contacting them about an interview long before I arrived in Vienna.

Once in Vienna, I met the four Charlywood guys, loved them as much as their music and then saw them live in concert.

To say I was blown away by their energy on stage and just how good they are live is an understatement. Overall, I’d say Charlywood is one of the best rock bands I have seen live. Indie or not.

And now, to add even more loveliness to this already stellar Austrian pop rock band, Charlywood released their second studio album last month and it’s a beauty.

Successfully crowd-funded via Indiegogo, just like their first album, Charlywood’s self-titled sophomore album is better than their first — and their first was superb. (Check out Aloadasongs on Spotify if you don’t believe me)

But this second one, Charlywood, it has the sound of learning from mistakes a band can only have made because they recorded a first album, and the sound of a couple of years of playing the first one live in clubs all over Europe to get a handle on what worked and what they wanted to change.

Experience and years that give this sophomore album a richness and a solidity the first one was just a hair’s breadth away from reaching.

Because it’s in the maturity of the music itself, the cleverness and slyness of the lyrics, and the way these four guys play so well together they almost seem like one entity. Albeit one made up of four incredibly talented musicians in their own right.

It’s authentic too, seeing as how most of these tracks were recorded live and edited to a bare minimum, because Charlywood wanted the same slightly rough but real sound on their new album as the one they produce on stage.

The songs on Charlywood’s sophomore album

As for the 11 tracks on Charlywood, I could sit here and go through them one by one and tell you how they sound, what the drums or the bass guitar is doing in that song and what you should listen for when you play the album.

But, nope, I’m not going to do that because, honestly, I’m crap at it.

Half the time, I couldn’t tell you if I’m listening to a lead guitar or a bass guitar (well, I could, but I have to work at it), and so I have to spend a lot more time than I should just coming up with something that sounds remotely ‘journalistic’ when I talk about music.

Instead, why I write about music, and why I love the songs Charlywood has put out on this new album is how their music makes me feel, how incredibly high energy most of the album is, and how raw the music.

And how Andy Charlewood writes these fabulously clever lyrics that don’t always mean what you first thought they meant.

Take the first single and the opening track from the album, for instance.

Alternatives‘ — it’s a track with pounding drums, a catchy beat, a cool guitar riff and explosive vocals right from the get-go. Just two minutes into the album, and you’re already revved up, loving life and waiting for more.

The fact that it finishes so abruptly just as you’re really getting into it leaves you a bit out of breath and…hanging. Which is perfect, because there is a whole lot more on this album to love.

All of it, really.

Haircut‘ — Now, I was lucky enough to hear this track way before the album was released, as the lads sent me a demo version of the songs they were working on for the second album right before I interviewed them last year. (Interview and photos here).

And I remember this one standing out the most at the time as I loved the concept and the lyrics. Because that opening line — “I just had to call you up and say I like your haircut“. Come on, it’s brilliant.

Because it reminded me of all the lame reasons men in my life have used to contact me when they want to talk to me, don’t know what to say, and so come up with a line that just leaves me thinking “Huh?”

That’s ‘Haircut’ and, man, it’s clever. (Lyrics here).

I mean, how cool is this…

Like your quiet air and your LBD 
And the way you’re never blocking my call ID 
And I scare me now cause I’m OTT 
I’m sorry for my joke about vitamin “D” 
and the words all come and I’m all at sea 
I think I’ll try and float an insanity plea 
You can stop me dead with that quiet stare 
and I’ve no hope now since you cut your hair 

I know it would be best if I could learn to keep my mouth shut 
But I just had to call you up and say I like your haircut 

Wounds — (and no, I’m really not going through this brilliant album song by song), is more of a rock ballad, at least in sentiment.

Because it’s written from the perspective of someone who has been brutally hurt by the person they were in love with, thought they had moved on from, but are now finding themselves tentatively coming back for more. Yep, we’ve all been there.

Don’t try to know me its easy to assume 
It’s been so long but you’re still poking at my wounds 
I still go back to the time we spent apart 
I moved a mountain to tear you from my heart 
‘n that’s a hell of a place to start 

The guitar riff here is gorgeous too, and the drums add a slightly off-kilter feel to the song that matches how off-kilter we often feel when we suddenly see that person again that hurt us so much and know, if we let them, they could do it all over again.

‘Talkin ‘Bout Degeneration’ — This one was initially a hard one for me to like as, on first listen, it seems as though it’s all over the place.

Vocals that don’t seem to quite match the music, a guitar that sounds almost out of tune, drums that are just about keeping time and all together a bit of a raucous mess.

Do yourself a favor, though, and listen to it again. Because it’s actually quite brilliant.

Loud, obnoxious, discordant and as hard rock as these guys get, it is high energy, shoved in your face, screw-you-we’ll-play-what-we-want-to rock music that will certainly make you sit up and take notice.

I listened to it through many times, and now I love it.

The official music video for the song is wild too. Just don’t watch it if you’re epileptic.

Your Life‘ — This is one of the most melodious songs on the album, almost folk rock, and with pretty harmonies and Andy’s fabulous southern English accent really coming through.

The song itself reminds me a bit of classic Elvis Costello, with interesting word plays and lyrics that initially sound almost happy, until you listen closely and realize how sad they really are.

Charlywood — The self-titled second studio album

And this is what I like about Charlywood and the music they create. And what I love about this second album.

Their songs are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written while, at the same time, with melodies you remember long after the song has ended.

Musically they also have a rockingly talented drummer in Fabian Natter, a superb bassist in Markus Manahl and the fabulous Fabian Lewey on guitar and keyboards (who, if you meet him, is actually quiet and a bit shy, but get him up on stage and he’s a whole other beast).

Put all that together with Andy Charlewood’s brilliant vocals and guitar and, every time I listen to Charlywood (the album and the band), I am amazed at how few people still seem know about them.

So why not make that a little bit less of a reality today, and grab their new album Charlywood to help give these awesome guys a boost?

You can buy it on Bandcamp or on iTunes.  You can listen to it (again and again) on Spotify.

As for following Charlywood and finding out about upcoming concerts, their Facebook page is here, this is their Instagram page, and their website and, if you do the Twitter thing, they’ve got that too.

Charlywood also has a YouTube channel and, if what I was told is true, they will have a lot more music videos and live performance videos going up in the coming months, so make sure you subscribe.

If you want to listen before buying and you don’t have Spotify, the Bandcamp widget below will help you do that too.

Charlywood in concert 

Finally, if you want to see Charlywood live, and I highly highly highly recommend you do, their official Album Release Concert is on January 19th at Kramladen in Vienna.

The opening act that night is Mark Peters, another Vienna musician who released his debut album this year, an album that is still one of the best things I’ve heard all year.

Go. Really. It’s going to be one of the best live concerts in Vienna in 2018. No lie.


About Michelle Topham

I'm a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I'm also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!

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