A two-fer of debuts fer you fer today!
An album of sunny retropop from The Summer Cats (an Australian quintet) and some edgier retropop from Band of Skulls. Both bands feature a ‘60s garageband sound, but where you might here Summer Cats on the soundtrack to Austin Powers, you’d be more likely to hear Band of Skulls on the Trainspotting album. A nice pair of contrasts for this afternoon.
First up: Summer Cats’ collection, Songs for Tuesdays. This is a smartly packaged product, from the flashy cover and the crayon-like band logo to the songs themselves. All are short and fast, and the album skips relentlessly, cheerful and catchy. The band never stretches too far, content to make a summer album designed for sun and fun and an escape from deep thoughts. It’s soft, cuddly, cute and shiny. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cotton candy and lemonade. For fans of Husky Rescue, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Zombies, and maybe the Go Gos.
But after you’ve eaten watermelon and played volleyball for an hour, you might be ready to lean back, watch the surf, and pound some Jaeger. If so, might I suggest Band of Skulls? This is darker (but not dark); where Summer Cats were a ‘60s afternoon, BoS are a suburban garage, with a couple local kids peering through the windows. “Baby Darling Doll Face Honey” has a palpable Iggy Pop influence, and is musically more interesting but thematically less consistent than the Summer Cats album. That inconsistency isn’t a bad thing—it makes the album unpredictable and powerful, in fact. Standouts here are the vocals and the fact that it’s not overproduced (if anything, it sounds like a live album), which gives it an organic, authentic flavor. For fans of postpunk blues (a la ), Them!, the Stooges, the , and . This may be one of the best first-albums of the year.
A solid pair of debuts, a little something for everyone, both well worth checking out.