Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: The Cat Empire, Two Shoes

 The Cat Empire are an Australian band that is very popular in their home country.  “Two Shoes” was recorded in 2005 in Havana with a collection of Cuban horn players and has been cat empirereleased with different track listings in Australia, Canada and most recently in the US.  The US version is being reviewed here.  The band melds rock, rap, jazz and ska into what could be a heady rhythm-rich mixture.  Could be.  I don’t know what the band were doing in Havana but Two Shoes sounds like a collection of songs that had a Cuban-influenced horn section welded on after the fact.  Sometimes it works but most of the time the added horns just sound awkward.  An example is the title track which sounds like it was originally written as some kind of ska, dub, or reggae tune but was refit for a Latin horn section.  The problem is not the ability of the additional horn players.  The Cat Empire often come across like a band that is probably a blast to hear and party to live but who are not quite ready for prime-time. Their song writing is fairly mundane and, for the most part, they don’t take much advantage of the rhythmic possibilites available in the types of music that interest them.  The Cuban horn charts are often not well integrated into the songs so they sound tacked on.  It also doesn’t help that the Cuban horn players sound like much more polished musicians than the members of the band which accentuates the disparity between the original and added material.  When I first put this CD on I was enthusiastic but a couple of listens later the seams were all too apparent and the whole thing began to fall apart.

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05/27/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music

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