While we wait for Finland's Cats on Fire to make a third album, we can look forward toDealing in Antiques, a 20-track odds-n-sods compilation from the band's eight year existence. The album is out May 12 on Matinée Recordings and includes a pretty great cover of White Town's unlikely '90s hit "Your Woman," which will probably make Pains of Being Pure at Heart keyboardist Peggy Wang happy if no one else. Check it out:
Last year's Our Temperance Movement made my Best of 2009 list and if you haven't heard it, you should definitely give it a spin. It's like all the best jazzy, jangly bands (Orange Juice, The Smiths, Felt, Wild Swans, etc) of the early '80s all rolled up into one new foppy delight that is fantastic in it's own right. MP3: Cats on Fire – Letters from a Voyage to Sweden
They're also a great live band, and their Don Hill's performance at last year's NYC Popfest was the highlight of that weekend. So good. They're not playing it this year, but they will be flying over to California later this month, playing Hungry Beat! party at La Cita in LA on May 29 and then the San Francisco Popfest on May 30 (with the Tyde, My Teenage Stride and more!) — do go see them if you live over there. They'll then jet to Hong Kong for a show on June 12. Hopefully we'll get them to the East Coast this year at some point.
Full track list for Dealing in Antiques after the jump:
"America, your economy is shit." Cats on Fire singer Mattais Björkas was addressing the NYC Popfest crowd at Don Hill's with grave seriousness. "Our is too of course. And greenhouse gasses are at an all-time high. Of course, that didn't stop us from bringing a suitcase full of Finish bottled water on the airplane with us." Rimshot! It was at this point that I realized I had him figured all wrong. Impeccably dressed and coiffed, prone to pursed lips, I thought he was kind of a sourpuss when the Finnish band played Don Hill's at last year's Popfest.
But last night I got it — he's hilarious. And I don't mean laugh at this person prancing around onstage. Björkas is a genuinely funny guy with a bone-dry wit and tongue planted firmly in cheek. And when not playing guitar, he has the guts to dance onstage the way many of us dance to the Smiths when no one else is at home. The rest of the band are ace, it should be noted, ably replicating the immaculate, arpeggiated pop (think Aztec Camera, Smiths, Felt, Eggstone) found on 2007's The Province Complains and the excellent, just-released Our Temperance Movement. And Cats on Fire are a flat-out great live band, the whole group has chops, and the audience was lapping it up, dancing… well, more of a bob and sway than the geek-out the music really meritted.
If you missed them Friday night, Cats on Fire play Bruar Falls with Swedish trio (and fellow Popfest-ers) Liechtenstein on Tuesday, May 19. I highly recommend you clear your schedule. Our Temperance Movement was just released in the U.S. on Matinee Recordings and if you like the MP3s on this post, you're gonna want to get the whole thing.
I shot video of two songs, which you can watch if you click through the jump…
Finland's impeccably dressed Cats on Fire will always have a place in my easily-embarrassed heart as
the first band to quote this blog onstage, at least while I was in the
room. The band are back with their first album in two years, Our Temperance Movement, which will be released on March 11 in Europe and perhaps elsewhere. The record's first downloadable taster, "Letters from a Voyage to Sweden," has just been set forth upon the internet, and it's quite a catchy little number — no surprise, really. The arrangement is especially nice, with arpeggiated 12-string acoustic guitars in the chorus, and glockenspiel near the end that gives it an Eggstone sort of vibe.
And Björkas' stage banter was warmer on Sunday. The band was more relaxed — probably less jet-lagged from the long trip from Finland — it was a better show than at Don Hills on Friday night. The crowd ate it up like sugary cereal.
The final event at NYC Popfest 2008 was a lot of fun, very chill, and way off schedule. Bands were supposed to start at 2PM but then the kickoff got pushed to 3PM. But they didn't actually start till maybe 3:30 and there eight acts on the bill.
It was all right though, despite it being monstrously hot and humid. Union Pool is a nice place to hang out, with a big outdoor area with a fair amount of shade. A barbecue was set up with The Besties manning the grill. And the performance room — which is really cute and actually perfect for Popfest — stayed nice and air conditioned.
The day's biggest discovery was Boston's One Happy Island, who had some really winning songs with lots of interesting instrumentation, including kazoo, glockenspiel and ukulele, which at one point was played a distortion pedal. (That was a first.) Three of the four members sang, though they'd do well to feature the lovely voice of drummer drummer Rebecca Mitchell.
The band I was actually looking forward to were Glasgow's The Hermit Crabs who are purveyors of the loveliest folk-pop in Scottland this side of Camera Obscura. Comparisons to that band abound, but The Hermit Crabs are a little more country, and a little more subdued. Maybe a bit too subdued after a long day in the hot sun drinking beer, which is totally not their fault. Singer Melanie Whittle seemed like the nicest person on the planet and performed with her shoes off. I'd love to see them again under cooler circumstances.
I shot video of The Hermit Crabs doing "Friends Folk Festival"…
Scandinavians are made of different stuff than us Americans. Cats on Fire singer Mattias Björkas looks like he was gene-spliced from equal parts Low-era David Bowie, James Dean, and Morrissey. His look was perfect, from the boots and perfectly rolled jeans to the ascot and perfectly jelled hair. I was sort of mesmerized by his hair, I'm not sure why.
on Fire's music is just as immaculate. A delicate — though sometimes
speedy — jangle with occasional country flourishes (and a love of
Motown), it's the perfect soundtrack for biking in the countryside, or
walking through the park. And you can dance to it… in an indie-pop
kind of way. It's hard not to bop along to rediculously catchy songs like "Draw in the Reins," "I am the White-Mantled King" and "Higher Grounds." I'm pretty sure this is the first Finnish band I've ever seen (here's hoping The Dø make it this way soon, though) and from this one experience and say that they don't quite have the command of the English language their Swedish neighbors do, and Björkas stage banter came off stilted and a bit cold. But the music was warm enough.
This was Night Two of Popfest NYC, this time way the hell West at Don Hill's for a party co-sponsored by the party people at Mondo NYC. The late set time (1AM) didn't seem to phase anyone. The Pelle Carlberg autographed guitar made another appearance. If it was too late for you, word is Cats on Fire will be playing tomorrow at the Popfest closing BBQ at Union Pool. It's a great lineup, with The Cannanes, The Hermit Crabs, and lots more. Starts at 2pm.
I also shot video of their song "Mesmer and Reason":