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The Cat Empire - Two Shoes Review

by Gary Schwind

In the liner notes, the band declares, "we found ourselves with a record that is alive." They aren't kidding about that. From the outset, this album is alive with wave after wave of sound. This band incorporates soul, rock, ska, and Latin influences into their sound. The band sums it up best on their website, "where nothing seems in place, but sounds like many places played in one earthy chord." Actually, that's not entirely true. Everything in these songs seems pretty well in place. There aren't many bands I know that can successfully incorporate so many disparate sounds in each song.

Take "Lullaby" for instance. This song includes a rolling piano part, along with James Brown-style horns and turntables. Sounds busy, doesn't it? Frankly, it is. But I don't mean that with any negative connotations. It's busy in that a lot is going on and it will make you want to move.

I am a big fan of "The Car Song" because it is uncanny how much the beginning of the tune reminds me of a band from Michigan called Goober and The Peas that I used to check out when I was in college.

Even when the band makes a social statement, they make you want to move. In "The Chariot," the singer declares "our weapons were our instruments." Then after the chorus some the band features some old-style reggae/ska trumpet and trombone. Put your skankin' shoes on for this one.

The Latin influence is greatest in "Sol y Sombra" which features Spanish lyrics, horns, keyboards, timbales and congas. It's pretty apt considering the album was recorded in Havana. This song is hot and again, the band shows how effortless they can move from one genre to another. To further the point, they follow "Sol y Sombra" with a hip-hop-influenced song ("Party Started") and a song that sounds like it could be on an educational television show for kids ("Protons, Neutrons, Electrons").

This is a very solid album filled with great instrumentation and vocals. It's no wonder the album is doing so well in the band's native Australia. If you want an all-out sonic assault that is probably quite different than anything else you have in your collection, check out this album and get your two shoes ready to move.

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The Cat Empire - Two Shoes


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