The Cat Empire

DJ Marsupial reviews an Aussie act

The Cat Empire is currently one of my favorite Australian groups. Forming at the dawn of the Millennium (1999), their musical style consists of an eclectic grouping of sounds and genre mixtures.  Imagine a piece of music with ska overtones and a reggae bass line, now add in a little calypso magic, perhaps some castanets, and a light-rock attitude… On second half, it may actually be easier to just take a listen yourself.

There was worry among some Empire-ites, that the band was straying from the variation-sounds that made them who and what they are; many of these worries were quelled (at least partially so) with the release of the band’s most recent album ‘Steal the Light’ (2013) and the single “Brighter Than Gold” (One of my most favorite tracks).

Internationally recognized, they will be finishing up the Australian portion of their ‘Steal The Light’ tour in early October and then jet-setting over to Europe where they are set to play mostly in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and France. It will be interesting to see if the ‘international static’ picks up their new album’s sound.

With this band there is much for your ears to feast upon – spanning 6 studio albums and as one might imagine, a myriad of intra and inter-albumal genre changes. The Cat Empire is band made up of light, bouncy, dance-able music; I believe that’to be one the primary classifiers of the band’s music: that it is wholly, fully, and to the utmost dance-able.

They are a band with an upbeat attitude; they are unafraid of pressing the ‘envelope’ of genre. One song which clearly displays this melding of genre and sound is, “The Rhythm” – The track begins solemn and slow, carried solely by lyrics and faint flamenco guitar backing. It ‘kicks up’ after a minute with what may best be described as a calypso-ska beat; backing up the melody and dancing with this new beat, one can hear the distinctive sounds of turntable scratching. At about two minutes into the song, the tone takes an almost santana-esque shift. This final transformation slowly morphs into a raucous finale, one instrument at a time, into what can only be described as the wholesome band sound that is, The Cat Empire.

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Written by DJ Marsupial. Tune into Kiwi Classics Thursdays from 6-7pm on 90.7fm KJHK. 

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