Reviews:: The Cat Empire Two Shoes

I might as well talk about Paul Hogan, Steve Irwin (RIP), shrimp and/or barbies, because I am writing about an Australian band for the second times in two days. The Cat Empire is a unique entity, since they have six members and there is nary a guitar to be found. They mix Latin jazz, r & b, hip-hop, and horns like a trendy after work lounge, but do it with out any pretension. The result is a fantastic summer album with boatloads of energy.

To be honest, it’s the type of CD you’d expect to hear played at a house party in a Hollywood surf flick like Blue Crush II: Crush Harder. While this might sound like I’m making fun of the sounds, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m strangely intrigued by party records. Music doesn’t always have to change your perspective (I mean, we haven’t been busy sunbathing off the southern coast of St. Bart's with spider monkeys for the past two weeks, tripping on acid) and these guys seem quite happy to exist in a diverse mix of influences, and are unapologetic about paying tribute to the music they love.

If it isn’t your scene, it might be easy to dismiss the surfer/marijuana influences that riddle the CD, but if you are at all into that relaxed, care-free vibe you will probably find a lot of tracks you can relate to. The pseudo-afrobeat melody of In My Pocket is infectious. Sure, it’s no Fela, but for 6 white guys in the year ’07, it more than fills the gap.

The latin jazz vibe of Sol y Sombra blends perfectly into a great jam session, so does the hip hop scratching on The Car Song. For any fan of Trojan dub/ska, I’d be shocked if you don’t think Saltwater holds up well. On Two Shoes and The Chariot, they dance freely into the G. Love realm of hyper funky white guy rap with nice instrumentation, but the reggae influences and ska horns change the vibe completely.

It’s probably not fair to consistently compare the songs (and band) to other artists, but that is kind of why the record works. A summer, party record shouldn’t have only one sound and should never bore you. The songs should remind you of great parties and make you want to dance (which is something The Cat Empire does in spades).

MP3:: Saltwater - removed at artist's request
Video:: Sly

@ 3:29 AM, Just a Girl kicked the following game:

A friend from Aus sent me some of their music last year and I got a chance to see them when they played in Vancouver. So much fun live :)


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