CD Review

By Tommy Hough, Staff Writer
©Copyright 2021 Hough

With a funky clavinet break seemingly straight out of an old ELO record to polish it off, the muscular first (well, second really, following a half-minute cryptic French demonstration) track on Catapult comes on like a loud old-fashioned rock song, the kind of album-leadoff potboiler that does a band proud, and is guaranteed to keep anyone awake on an Interstate highway for 3:50. Nice to hear a band that doesn't feel compelled to obsess over punk or this whole "emo" thing (sorry, record company pansy term there), but goes for the so-called jugular rock card instead. Good for them, and good for the listener.

Michael Hernandez sounds like some 4AD-style 80's singers to me, occasionally straining at the edges of his vocal chords instead of singing with a full gut, but he doesn't feel like he has to scream or shriek into oblivion to be compelling or cover for thin material or inject a lot of phony bravado. 'Tis good, there's a pleasant effortless to his approach. Don't know if "Surrey" is about the idealized English countryside location, but I detect a smattering of yummy Brit shoegazer on the track in between the rawk, and with a little inverted mixing the song could fit quite nicely on My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Wow, here's a band with a little imagination and creativity in the studio.

Kicking off with some Lalo Shifrin-style keyboards, the trippy guitar feast "Violet" has some slinky, dazed-and-confused geetar work fattened up and wandering around the mix a few feet above the ground like a drunk, kaleidescope-colored poltergeist (or a Fresno County fog), recommended for damp, late-night drives around Palomar Mountain dodging semis on S.R. 76. Urgent, moody, driven, "Violet" might be Catapult's weird, elegant centerpiece, and damn if Willie Canedo's keyboards don't put me somewhere other than where I am. Leaving room for the arpeggioed, then snappy "Monday Morning Departure," you'll find a couple of surprising time and dynamic changes worthy of making you accidentaly spill coffee in your lap, and it's catchy the third or fourth time around even with a wet bum.

These guys and gal are pretty good, and they've got some songs to match a more than competent recording co-produced by Rob Stojak, designer of El Cajon's aptly named Revolt Studios where the album was cut last June. All except for "Give Way," recorded in late summer 2001 and definitely sounding like a different session with an at-first acoustic opening featuring a few less pedals before launching into more of a Dramarama romantic angst essay, plus Hernandez's vocals seems a little more clear, getting on top of a few jangly guitars instead of Catapult's mostly interstellar overdrive.

Worth your money, and worth your time. Appropriate aura of mystery: the Legos credit on the jacket. Danish toymakers strike another victory in coolness. So do Lualta.

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