Alex Dezen / Palo Santo Records /


Björn Sandberg / Kingdom Management /


Amber Bollinger / Palo Santo Records /

Bill Benson / Team Clermont /


Robb Haagsman / Shine On /


(L toR) Andrew MacPherson (Guitar), Chris McCrory (Vocals, Guitar) Ryan Clark (Drums), Jamie Dubber (Bass, Vocals)


When Catholic Action first emerged with 2017’s debut album In Memory Of, the accolades were fast to follow. Slots at tastemaker festivals including The Great Escape in the UK and South By Southwest in the US turned into the band cracking the BBC Radio 1 playlist, Travis Holcombe’s playlist on KCRW, as well as playing some of the UK’s biggest festivals, eventually culminating in a Scottish Artist of the Year Award nomination. In amongst all this, the band talked of being pushed and pulled in all directions, and just doing what they wanted to do creatively. In Memory Of lived up to its billing as a boundlessly inventive body of work, never lacking for an ear-worm, but on the evidence of the first single, “One Of Us,” Celebrated by Strangers promises are a far more focused proposition.

One Of Us packs a fuzzed-out stomp alongside masterfully giddy melodies that sees lead singer and guitarist Chris McCrory recount “the welfare son of a welfare son,” taking aim at the billionaire-owned media and their Bullingdon Club ilk who shirk responsibility for sowing the division in the UK. 

 It sets the tone for a record that asks both searching questions of the self, while pointing the finger at inaction in the wider world. Through a procession of skittish, off-kilter riffs and squawking saxophones, Celebrated by Strangers doesn’t just call for action, it demands it. Fizzing with invention, accusation, self-belief and creativity, it never stutters under the weight of its own message. 

The album was produced by lead singer and guitarist Chris McCrory (SPINN, Walt Disco) at Hermitage Works in London and at Shady Lane Studio in Glasgow, and mixed by Rich Turvey (Blossoms, Cabbage, The Coral) at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool. McCrory explains further: 

One of Us was written as a direct response to what I see happening in the UK – a country ravaged by poverty and a disintegrating social fabric of increasingly isolated and intoxicated people. A neglected group spun in circles by an uncaring billionaire-owned media, (mis)led into pointing the finger at one another as opposed to those truly responsible for this situation. A depressing but common problem in 2019…sound familiar?

This song is a comment on the aggressive divide and conquer politics that has kept this status quo of radical inequality in the UK firmly in place. 

Keep the people divided, drugged and distracted. Racism, sectarianism, vodka, sexism, PornHub, classism, Remain or Leave, heroin, Netflix…Whatever works – just don’t let them rise above their station. 

I believe people are good hearted at their core but are embittered and led astray by what they’re fed – what they’re seeing, hearing and being told. As long as we stay divided, nothing will ever change. So it’s pretty simple. If people want to shift the status quo they need to organise, come together and fight for equality – a way of life that’s positive, progressive and inclusive. We’re all human (apparently) after all. 

So, are you one of them, or one of us?

Celebrated by Strangers arrives March 2020.