A few months ago, Tuesday Ten #226 howled about dogs. But in the meantime, Elin – among a few others – was unimpressed that I did songs about dogs, but not cats. So time to redress the balance, with some songs to mewl along to. Bring your kitten heels to dance.
/A Purr-fect Ten – Songs about Cats
There will be no “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, among other horrors, mind, nor Eye of the Tiger, though. The photos of various friend’s cats (and a neighbour’s one, too!) were all taken by me.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Front By Front
In amongst some of the greatest EBM ever committed to tape – yes, Front By Front is still that good as it nears thirty years old – there are a couple of interesting experiments.
Best of all is this moody, darkened crawl, where the BPM is pushed way down and the Jean-Luc de Meyer’s vocals become a surprisingly soulful croon. Not for the first time in this week’s ten, the cats are a metaphor, here I suspect for a baying crowd that have come to jeer and gain retribution.
/Sexless Demons & Scars
The reunion of these goth-punk-pop icons this year was a bit of a surprise – as was the clamour for tickets for their London show (which I succeeded in getting tickets for). In fact, the clamour was such that a full UK tour ended up being announced! Anyway, their best-known song is probably this one, a sweet-edged punk buzz apparently about Jessicka’s “pet”. Although, with the various metaphors used, it could be said that it isn’t a pet cat, that’s for sure…
/The Presidents of the United States of America
One song that *is* about the singer’s cat is this one, a vastly better single than the eternally naff Peaches and Lump – and one that is quite sweet in the singer’s affection for his pet, who initially has been drenched out in the rain and needs some affection. Of course, like many cats, there is a bastard side to it and as he scratches his owner (and eats his owner’s food!), it’s back outside for it, regardless of the weather…
For all of the clichés about Goths being dour, unhappy types, just watch what happens when this gets played in a club – as it so often does. An outpouring of joyous dancing and singing usually results, and the same could be said about Robert Smith and The Cure in this song – one where two lovers are portrayed as cats as they “bite and scratch and scream all night“, sleep by the fire, and not to mention “have each other with cream”. Sounds a fun life, and not all the bitter darkness that inhabits much of The Cure’s best output.
/Cat on Tin Roof
A band I had a passing interest in back in the 90s, I have to say that I was surprised to find that they were still going. Rather more minimalistic than the chaotic, squalling sound of their earlier days, one thing that hasn’t changed is Kazu Makino’s near-indecipherable vocals. Here she makes all kinds of quasi-feline sounds and moans, with occasional forays into actual words, while a gentle drum rhythm is brushed out, a bassline carries the whole song and Makino prowls around in the shadows, ready to strike.
The Ladytron of this album wasn’t as good as what had come before (although how do you follow an album as extraordinary as Witching Hour?), but this brilliant opening track put back the worries by five minutes or so. Pounding, out of step drums and twinkling electronics back Mira Aroyo’s vocals, in her native Bulgarian. Using the cat as a metaphor for the protagonist (as it’s in Bulgarian, by the way, I had to hunt out a translation of it), they are urged to “become an eagle”, spread their wings, and do something they want to do – i.e. don’t stay at home, on the ground. Something like that, anyway.
/Rip Like Cat Claws
/After The Devastation
One of those artists that I really should listen to more, but there is so much of his back catalogue that I’ve never really got beyond a best-of and the odd album, and particularly this one. Like many of Claus Larsen’s lyrics, there is a bitter fury at the heart of this track, a brutal revenge fantasy on someone who has done something very unpleasant indeed, and the titular weapons also appear in the form of a cat yowling in the background (an unusual addition to an industrial track, that’s for sure).
/Way Beyond Blue
Back to Britain in the nineties, and South Wales in this case – with a tale of suburban drudgery from Cerys Matthews. Where a lost cat on a poster on the street is a distraction from the unpleasant happenings behind closed doors. A relationship is falling apart, with accusation after accusation, there are other crimes committed, but yet Cerys and her partner somehow force themselves to make things work, or at least patch them up. As for the cat, it’s unclear whether it ever reappears.
/Songs About My Cats
Ah, Venetian Snares (well, Aaron Funk). The creator of some of the angriest, most vicious drill’n’bass/breakcore going, or some of the prettiest, most complex electronics I’ve heard, frequently in the space of the same release. And perhaps hardly likely to be an artist that you might see making a surreally affectionate album about cats. But this he did, with some of the tracks clearly being named after pets, the others…fuck knows. This one, though – a title that rings true for anyone who has ever been near a long-haired domestic cat, never mind owned one, sounds like Funk let such a cat loose on the keyboard to come up with the apparently random beats and then allowed them to be recorded mewling their satisfaction at a job well done. Also, probably the only album to feature a track whose spectrogram shows a whole host of cats.
/Felix The Cat
Finally, from one of the more ethereal industrial bands – the now long-lived industrial duo of Collide, from LA – who frequently delve into dark, sensuous corners, made a throwaway cover of an old cartoon theme into exactly that – a gorgeous, beatless track that has synths that swirl like bats are sweeping out of the ground, and unless you listen carefully, there is little to show of the original…until the last line, as the synths die away and Karin enunciates “Felix, the wonderful cat” oh-so-clearly. Was there ever a more unlikely cover of a cartoon theme? Indeed I believe this was originally recorded for the Projekt compilation all about cats…