Polar Goldie Cats Feral Phantasms

[Up; 2006]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: Catrock, Instrumental, Post-Punk, No Wave, Indie Rock
Others: Oneida, Trans Am, Jesus Lizard, Sebadoh, Unwound - but sans vox, “Macbeth”, Glenn Branca, June of ‘44

Here's an instrumental rock band that takes its concept seriously. A brimstone bevy of Kitties introduces this album for two minutes. The album sleeve and booklet are all types of post-kitty visual striation, with two pages of cat names for those who are stumped and still calling their pet "nothing part 2." My brother never named his cat, even though I've always encouraged "Batgirl," since she looks so much like a flying squirrel monkey. Each title seems a cat name or reference to a particular felineness. But there's thankfully a bit more than meets the meow to this band's music.

It's instrumental rock. Kinda like if you took early no wave, the instrumental Folk Implosion material, and a bit of that Six Finger Satellite anthemic murky-jerky punk. I like it, but you may find it lacking in the days of overstuffed, mini-opera indie rock. Fans of Sufjan, Arcade Fire, Decemberists, Wolf Parade and the like won't sneeze at this. For those of us that want our rock alternatives rough, ragged and not indebted to the new generation of stuffy prog indulgence, both "Maoist" and "A.F. Otter" are lean, entrancingly skewed jams that are easily among the best instrumental rock songs I've come across in the past two years.

This music is not entirely unfamiliar, but its brooding lock-groove tension is so tastily executed you won't give it a second thought. Fans of Sonic Youth, Sun City Girls, or grunge music in general should take a listen. Perhaps, also, should those who are all about the gloomier side of the operatic Canadian rock scene. No matter -- even if you're a dog person, this is the 2006 instrumental-rock record you want to check out. The crushing title track alone will corrode your outer -- brain a startlingly handsome patina.

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