April 14, 2011

Cattle Drums – The Boy Kisser Sessions +3

Cattle Drums
The Boy Kisser Sessions + 3
Tiny Engines; 2011

Yes, this will sound rather cheeseball and/or make me come across like an anachronistic old man, but the music of Cattle Drums makes me really nostalgic for the years 1999-2002. In general, those times were filled with lots of angst, contradictions, and frustration (i.e. big questions about my education, career, and belief systems), but my music world opened up in untold directions during that time, setting a foundation for who I am as both an appreciator and critic of music. Reveling in heartfelt passions and rollicking rhythms, The Boy Kisser Sessions + 3 is a kinetic eight-song record that calls to mind early mewithoutYou, At The Drive-In, and that exciting, vibrant era of indie guitar rock as second-wave emo was flirting openly with punk and hardcore music.

I spent many hours driving many miles up and down Interstate 45 in a crappy grey 1989 two-door Nissan Sentra going to college at Sam Houston State University, going to work in a Christian book/music/gift store, attending shows in Houston, TX, and then driving back to Conroe, TX where I used to live and go to church. I count it a high honor to describe this album as one that I would have played endlessly on repeat in my car stereo. My heart would have exulted in the brash combination of punk, hardcore, emo, and southern gothic sensibilities, as snaking guitar parts danced with an energetic rhythm section, while I screamed along with the earnest bleat of the lead vocals.

There’s nothing whiny or sad-sack about emo of this nature – much like their progenitors, these are tough guys who are also aware of their feelings. Along with the earlier bands I mentioned, rampant swathes of Braid, Fugazi, Pedro The Lion, and vintage Midwestern emo fueling songs like “Who Punched Pat Moore’s Face,” “Sluts And Coconuts,” “Bovrg The Nag,” and “Just The Right Height.” The tunes are rocking throughout, and the band pays careful attention to how they each work together to provide a cogent, complete musical thought.

The Boy Kisser Sessions + 3 is fantastically vintage in orientation, but it possesses its own teeth and personality – nothing here feels a lame sound-alike or an archaic cliché. Cattle Drums rightly joins contemporaries like Everyone Everywhere, Tigers Jaw, and Monument (not to mention the whole roster of Topshelf Records) in bringing this long-derided style of indie rock headlong into today’s music culture. I am really excited to hear the debut full-length these five guys have planned for the latter half of 2011.

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