Friday, September 12, 2008

Cleaning Out the Pile:: Joan Osbourne & Catfish Haven

Sometimes when the ole pile of cds looks either too depressing to tackle or too bare to bother, we do the ole random grab and go for the best. So today's edish of Cleaning Out the Pile gives you two staggeringly different releases, both received with different levels of appreciation.

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To be honest, all I ever knew about Joan Osbourne was she is responsible for one of the top 5 songs to be sung horribly by drunken frat/high school kids (the other include Bust a Move by Young MC, Stay by Lisa Loeb, that stupid pseudo rap jam by Barenaked Ladies and people pretending to rap along with Snow in jest when he likky boom booms down). When she came out with One of Us, you couldn’t go anywhere without some idiot crooning along over top of it after a few rock-a-berry coolers.

So when I got her new disc in the mail, well, let’s just say I wasn’t really all that excited to break the seal on the packaging. First thing first, I actually thought she was Canadian – as she got serious MuchMusic airplay back in the day and would be a better reason to talk about her here – so finding out she was a Kentuckian made reviewing this record less relevant to our readers. I mean, we try to keep it Canadian and at least somewhat DIY on the hill and considering she was a regular on the ole Lilith Fair tour and (like Fab and Rob) she had a few grammies, I don’t think she really needs the traffic we might give her.

On the other side of the coin, she was terrific in Standing in the Shadows of Motown and I had no idea she song for the Dead. The new disc is well, pleasant. She has some slinky jams like Little Wild One and some radio ready roots hits like Hallelujah In The City but for the most part, Osbourne seems happy to be not offend the listener. Even as she changes from rock to roots to gospel tinged soul, the songs drift in and out of your ears unassumingly. I guess that can either be taken as a compliment or a dismissal, as the record seems to be relatively risk free.


Now, when it comes to soul you can really get behind a band like Catfish Haven. Gruff vocals, terrific backing vocals courtesy of the Cookers, keys and lots of lots of energy. These boys from Chicago put every ounce of their being into their music, and the backwoods soul session plays like a jam session on a friend’s porch.

Thanks to the steady drumming of Ryan Farnham, George Hunter's vocals have the room to run while bassist Miguel Castillo's notes manages to bob and weave into any space left over.

Call it soul. Call it Deep South boogie woogie. Call it all the good things you love from Buddy Holly, Joe Cocker, Foghat and even shit you never thought you’d like (like the disco influence on Play the Fool, the rough and tumble classic riffage of Halftime Show, the sonic waves of Blue Sun, or the hazy, end of the night waltz they drop on Tripping in Memphis).

But at the end of the day, call it Catfish Haven because these boys have found their own recipe for writing songs that will stand on their own for years to come. Devastator is rock solid from start to finish, proving that Catfish Haven is the band that is ready to make you shake your ass first and puts everything else at a distant second.

Posted at 8:06 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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