The Cat Empire are one of those bands that makes you want to explore every music genre imaginable. Aptly put, they take from almost every style of contemporary music and put it all together for an innovative and creatively fun sound. Being the second Australian band in two days that I’m posting, the group certainly has their share of members. There’s nine of them playing anything from bass and percussion to trumpets and empire horns, each contributing equally to the energetic result. At times, including dancers and guest musicians, there can be thirty performers on stage at once for a show from The Cat Empire. The six core members (minus the three musicians regulary contributing the empire horns) take pride in making such a unique sound without any guitars, proudly proclaiming themselves as “a six-piece with no guitars!”. Most of The Cat Empire’s influences are derived from Latin roots, such as their unique style of hip-hop which is displayed mostly through the rhythm section and the vocals of Felix Riebl and Harry J Angus. Their lyrics are often written conventionally from the view of a young man, such as the catchy ‘The Car Song’, which describes the expectations of a young man who just wants to have fun with basketball and girls. The song is relatively fast-paced, with usual non-stop entertaining lyrical babble occassionally interrupted by a felicitous blues solo.
The Cat Empire released their self-titled debut in 2003, reaching success with several BBC appearances and sold out shows, eventually signing onto EMI’s Virgin Records. ‘Hello’ was the first single off of the album, debuting at #20 on the ARIA singles chart in early 2004. The song may be what Mike Skinner (The Streets) would sound like if he could sing and had a bunch of talented musicians backing him up. ‘Days Like These’ is another highlight off of the album, borrowing some reggae elements to blend around their already excitable sound. They released their second album, Two Shoes, last year, focusing more on Latin jazz and an alternative feel, resulting in great tracks such as ‘The Car Song’ and ‘Sly’. Currently, the band is on tour in Australia, playing almost every night. Check out their tour dates here. Another site that may be of interest to fans is audio/video of their show at Sheperds Bush this past March, which can be heard here.