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Alternative/Punk

The Cat Empire

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The Cat Empire has already stretched across Australia, taking over that hotbed of house-rockin' bands one enormous theatre at a time. And now that their chart-topping smash Two Shoes has gone...

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The Cat Empire has already stretched across Australia, taking over that hotbed of house-rockin' bands one enormous theatre at a time. And now that their chart-topping smash Two Shoes has gone double-platinum in Australia they've set their sites on other territories, conquering late night TV in the USA - with performances on Letterman, Leno, Craig Ferguson- and packing out theatres right across Europe, as well as headlining major festivals in every corner of the world.

But is the world ready for six guys who apparently never sleep, who play nearly every night of the week, often drawing up to 30 performers onto the stage to feed from their limitless energy? Can we fully appreciate a group whose sound is a joyful collision of reggae, pub-rock, hip-hop, acid jazz, ska, R&B, and whatever else is in the air that evening, all of it packed into tight songs that threaten at any moment to explode into dazzling jams?

Well, actually... yes, if we judge by the reactions they have been getting all over the world recent trips. Brian Mansfield of USA Today reported on their Bonnaroo performance that the "Aussie visitors performed with the pacing of an old-school R&B revue." And Jeff Tamarkin, writing for AMG, confirmed that "the fuss was justified: The Cat Empire is a wholly engaging, genre-splicing band... clever and brainy, danceable and absorbing."

How do they pull it off? From the first moments on stage the groove is ferocious, the brass is sassy. The trumpet and keyboard feel like they're blasting in your living room; Felix's vocal is, well, sly, but it also swoops and falls and hyper-ventilates and pretty much leads you right into Harry's next song, whose island flavor and sing-along hook make it clear that this is a ride to remember.

Fact is, they are far more complex than they sound, if you want to break what they do down to the basics. But tempting as that is, the best way to appreciate The Cat Empire is to do what fans have been doing all over the world, from the band's eyebrow-raising set years ago at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival up to the ARIA Award that the national recording industry bestowed on The Cat Empire last October.

In other words, crank it up. Make it loud. Let it rip. Save the analysis for later. Dance! Read more