A hypnotic blend of grit and post punk narcosis, the brand new single Unfamiliar Boy out today from Gold Coast five-piece Chavez Cartel is a woozy yet powerful continuation of the group’s trademark sound, serving up simmering intensity alongside a fittingly moody music video also out today.


Opening in a stripped-back haze, Unfamiliar Boy soon grows to oscillate between smoky simplicity and raucous choruses, headily driven by the repeated mantra “I wanna change, I need a change / I’m only human after all” and healthy servings of post punk rock. With nods to the psychedelic stylings Iggy and the Stooges as well as IDLES, Arctic Monkeys and Fontaines D.C., Unfamiliar Boy ultimately draws you headfirst into a vivid reflection on the overwhelming rollercoaster that is time, as the band explains, The song was inspired by a period of time where life seemed to be going really fast and having the feeling where you don’t have time to even think. Like life is slipping through your fingers and you can’t quite grasp what’s really going on. Not a good headspace to be in. There’s a line coming out of the breakdown, “I need to wheel-spin in the mud, now that the months feel more like weeks”, that paints the mental picture of that feeling. It’s sort of like a plea where I’m going “If my head is going to go round in circles this fast can’t we at least stand still while we’re burning out and overheating so we’re not wasting any more time while we’re doing it?”.


Working alongside friend and frequent collaborator Jake Johnson, aka Burning Jacobs Ladder, Unfamiliar Boy firmly captures the live Chavez Cartel sonic potency, with the addition of Spencer Martin on mixing duties also continuing the creative thread in the band’s recent creative journey. “We did this song with a good mate of mine called Jake Johnson aka Burning Jacobs Ladder,” shares the band. “He’s a really great producer, he produces all his own music and he’s had a lot to do with our band over the last few months. He filled in on bass for our US tour and was a really cool addition to the lineup. We wanted to take that tour sound into studio with us and we’ve replicated it quite well. Johnson also engineered All I Know for us as well which is the bonus track on our Red Flag Blues EP. Those songs came out in March (check ‘em out!). Spencer Martin mastered the song for us who is an American mix/mastering engineer based in South Korea. He worked with Johnson a lot on his stuff, so we kept that working relationship going on our song.


Wielding a slick yet gritty aesthetic, the accompanying music video for Unfamiliar Boy balances performance visuals along with punctuated shots of New York, resulting in a journey that feels simultaneously intimate yet perfectly curated, with all the featured visuals filmed by Brooklyn-based videographer Katie Oliver during the band’s recent North American visit. “The video was filmed by Katie,” the band shares, It was all filmed on our New York leg of the US tour. She followed us around and hung out with us while we were playing over there and covered all our shows. She’s a real cool cat and came out partying with us and showed us round the city a bit too. It’s all there in the video. The video has a bit of a gritty/grungy tour documentary sort of vibe which is exactly what we wanted for this song. It’s more of an intimate live diary sort of feel as opposed to our previous production heavy music videos. Chavez Cartel in New York City. I still can’t get over it. Proud accomplishment.”


Releasing two EPs in 2019, Lucky Lucky and Confidence Is All I’m Taking Home, Chavez Cartel bunkered down during the pandemic years, ultimately turning their gaze and full focus into sharpening their sound and songwriting. The end result saw the band sign with End Of The Trail Records and release their 2023 EP Man’s Best Friend, before embarking on an extensive East Coast headline tour, supporting The Reytons on their What’s Rock N Roll Australian run, tour as main support alongside The Delta Riggs, and tick off their first ever UK performances, including headline shows in Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham, along with performances at The Great Escape Festival and at the End Of The Trail Creative Showcase in London.


In 2024, Chavez Cartel took off overseas once again, performing at The New Colossus Festival in New York as well as at SXSW in Austin, Texas, with both experiences broadening the global reach of this talented Gold Coast group. A band undeniably on the rise and one absolutely not to be missed, Unfamiliar Boy is the beginning of a phenomenal new chapter for Chavez Cartel; and following an extremely busy 12 months on the road, the band are raring to reveal even more new music to the world in the not-too-distant future, as they conclude, “It feels like we’re back to business. Whenever we get back off touring it always feels like we’re doing nothing because the pace is so slow compared to life on the road. Of course, we never stand still, but the change of intensity is always disheartening. It feels like we’re working again now. We’re still in the studio finishing off a second song which will be the follow up single to Unfamiliar Boy. It’s a real change of pace for us but it’s a really beautiful track. We played it live once in Byron Bay a couple of years ago and it was received really well. We don’t often get chance to perform any stripped-back songs, but Byron is a hippy town and we dropped it at a small venue down there. It was quite magic, so we’re really happy to be digging this one out and getting it laid down. It shows our versatility as writers. Stay tuned for more to come.”


Unfamiliar Boy is out today, Wednesday July 10.