Cat-A-Tac | Past Lies and Former Lives (Needlepoint)

cd_catatacTennant and McTurnan share guitar and vocal duties, creating the swirling, '90s-style distorted guitar of self-professed influence My Bloody Valentine.





According to the sparse liner notes, the members of Cat-A-Tac would like you to know their debut album Past Lies and Former Lives "took over a year to record, was intentionally erased more than once (in full), nearly broke up the band, but saved it in the end, and destroyed one 1974 Fender amp and an acoustic guitar."

Who knew shoegaze could cause such rancor and tumult?

When former University of Colorado roommates Andy Tennant, Jim McTurnan, and Connor Bailey returned to their college hometown of Boulder in 2002, they began their band as many musicians do, by messing around in the basement with instruments. Once drummer Warren Wonders joined the trio, Cat-A-Tac began playing out and released their self-titled EP in 2005.

On Past Lies and Former Lives, Tennant and McTurnan share guitar and vocal duties, creating the swirling, '90s-style distorted guitar of self-professed influence My Bloody Valentine. The similarity is uncanny for much of the album, save the vocals. Listen to the first track "Needles and Pins" and see whether you're reminded of My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, or of Pat DiNizio of '80s band the Smithereens.

Befitting the band's moniker, the lyrics are often, well, catty. For "Needles and Pins," Cat-A-Tac juxtaposes poppy licks and harmonies with bleak ruminations on a destructive relationship. "I'm staring at the stains you left on my sheets/ It seems surreal that it's just been a week/ Must be the ecstasy that keeps you in love/ with your old boyfriend or at least with his drugs." The female subject of Cat-A-Tac's fifth track "Credit Whore" is equally detestable. "Latest fads, diamond rings/ credit cards for gasoline/ Been working out some, still you hate your soul/ Don't you worry, there's alcohol."

Cat-A-Tac cites the Dandy Warhols as an influence, as well. Online, you'll find several comparisons between the two bands, which are warranted to a degree. They do share a dreamy, fuzzed-out sound. But Cat-A-Tac is ultimately more the Church than the Dandy Warhols. And that last track,. "Jesus Won't Save You and I," doesn't have the synth beat of "The Promise" by When in Rome, but it sure brings that one-hit wonder crashing to mind. "I wanna meet you up in the sky/ peek into heaven, see what it's like//life is a waste of time, but you don't have to die." I can't tell if the singer concludes that he doesn't want to "wake" or "wait," but he wraps it all up with "Jesus won't save you and I." Um, yeah. Eleventh track "Powder" would have been a much stronger closer. Better to finish with the gauzy melancholy of My Bloody Valentine lingering in your mind than syrupy When in Rome.

Should you dismiss Cat-A-Tac as derivative? Your music-snob friend probably will (you must have at least one). But if you like My Bloody Valentine, the Dandy Warhols, the Church, or hey, even When in Rome, give Cat-A-Tac a try. While not groundbreaking, the familiar distorted-rock territory presented here is deftly traversed. B | Rebecca Reardon

RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, The Dandy Warhols, The Church, The Smithereens

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