Credit Cat Band Cat

Review: Cat Band Cat @ Broadcast

By Otto Hampden-Woodfall

Post-art school or mid-2000 indie vibes? Cat Band Cat brings some stylish silliness to Glasgow.

I’ll cut to the chase – the lead vocalist plays a ride cymbal with a recorder. This review is going to be more than one sentence, but if you’re only interested in reading one sentence, then that will do just fine as a summary of what Cat Band Cat are about. They explode into life in the form of a drunken Stereolab-ish groove, panic attack-ing their way through squelching, rubbery bass and flashes of baroque elegance, a mad dance of six mad people. 

But their skill is palpable, in the way the aforementioned recorder-playing lead vocalist also handles drum machine duties in the absence of a live drummer. It’s palpable when the violinist and trumpet player-come-cowbell player bounce melodies off each other like post-minimalist billiard balls in an earthquake. They are infatuated with bizarre textures, but the bassist never loses sight of a clean groove, the vocals never so eccentric as to be off-putting. There is always something pretty, something soft, something gentle around the corner, like libretto vocals or lo-fi hip-hop – it’s just quite likely to happen abruptly in between free-jazz freakouts. 

Cat Band Cat are also excellent purveyors of support acts – Giant Hogweed’s grungy psych-pop plays as a palette-readying foil to Cat Band madness. They are capable of unashamed Windmill scene weirdness, but they also cover an Egyptian protest song with such tenacity it seems to take the audience by surprise. (The bassist even has a rap verse)

Following Hogweed is Jacob Alon, a plaintive singer-songwriter backed by stylish drums from a long white-haired spirit called Niall, as well as trundling bass and mournful synth pads courtesy of a Jonathan. Alon sings like Adrianne Lenker mid-breakdown, but their indie folk has more range than it initially lets on and comes to a crashing, sobbing finale, with acoustic guitar strings at serious risk of falling to pieces.

What impressed me most about Cat Band Cat themselves, however, was their ability to look like they had all just gotten out of bed, and still play with a stylishness and practised poise that belied the apparent jankiness of their compositional style. I was reminded both of the current wave of shaky-voiced, post-art-school UK bands (your Black Countries, New Roads, your Shames and Black Midis), and the hinterland mid-2000s indie-isms of the Fiery Furnaces, Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire. They strike me as a band mostly out of time, and yet entirely in tune with the erratic sensibilities of modern underground music. 

Should you catch this 6-piece live as part of this recurring triumvirate of acts (Cat Band Cat, Jacob Alon and Giant Hogweed look like something of a package deal according to their Instagram pages), they will most definitely surprise you. And if you’re willing to go along with po-faced silliness, you will most definitely enjoy it.


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