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Askew Review 15

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BLACK CAT MUSIC- Hands in the Estuary, Torso In the Lake (Lookout) Oakland seems to be something of a hot-bed for an emerging New Rock music. All sorts of rock and post-punk are beginning to be incorporated with the early 90s punk sound that Lookout is known to foster. Black Cat Music embodies this aesthetic perhaps more than any of their peers. "Hands..." is to my knowledge, their second LP and fourth overall release not counting singles or compilation appearances. The lyrics remain important, although they are no longer the centerpiece that they could sometimes be with previous explorations into the darker aspects of love and addiction. No matter what words are used, the versatile, strong punk vocals continue to channel a wide range of sensibilities with ease. Each track on this album has a singular influence which the band showcases. "The Valentine" is like a study of Birthday-Party-era Nick Cave, with the inflections and pace of the vocals capturing the spirit although not the exact sound of this great artist at his emotional peak. The rhythm section creates an appropriate back-drop while in no way attempting to copy the danger or brutality of Cave's band. This is not to say that Black Cat Music is without BALLS, as they pull off heavy and catchy riffs a la Black Sabbath in the next track, "The Chain Snatcher." Such outbursts of raucous elation are few, however, as the band doesn't seem comfortable going over the top for such a sustained period—no matter how guitar-centered they allow the mix to become. Theirs is a difficult road: attempting to reconcile their influences with the development of an individual musical conception. Black Cat Music perseveres anyhow, making sophisticated and chic rawk, while avoiding excessive pretension. Extremely confident but not without a sensitive side, they are something of a Cure-meets-Steppenwolf for the 90s. If you're having difficulty imagining this, it is probably a good sign that Black Cat Music are forging their own path. A lot like the Murder City Devils, but with greater depth, this band will rekindle an excitement in rock for all but the most jaded listeners. Emotive and commanding, like them or not, Black Cat Music is not to be missed.-Ryan McKay

 

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