Smart swing

<!– Link: Prairie Cats

So this friend of mine, right? He e-mails back in February, saying his band the Prairie Cats scored a Friday midnight slot at SXSW. And I’m like really stoked and stuff, but in the back my head, I panic.

You see, he mailed one of the few freebies the then-Soloist’s Notebook ever received, and that was like ages ago, and what do I do? I played the Cats’ debut album The Big One maybe once, twice at the most, and I never put it back in the stereo again.

I think maybe I was overdosing on rock en Español at the time, but I just so neglect to review the disc. I figure I should just be a man and chalk up to my irresponsibility as reviewer and tell my friend after I’ve seen their show.

And man did they burn! I’m mean, the Caucus Club was on fire!

The dance floor was packed with bodies on the count that it’s SXSW and stuff, but that didn’t stop the folks who wanted to dance to do so. At the very end of the Cats’ set, this one couple was just tearing up what little real estate was available at the foot of the stage.

It rocked.

So the next day at work, I do this sort of half-assed review, ‘cos I was supposed to be watching this band Lolita No. 18 but didn’t. What did I say? Something like: “the Cats burned on stage with its brand of smart swing that’s never content to be just dance music, even within a song.”

Of course, now I have no more excuses to let The Big One collect dust on my shelf. I take it out, put in my CD-ROM player — and the vague impression I had on my few listens were confirmed.

The first tracks of The Big One seem a bit attached to that usual descending rockabilly bass line, but as the album progresses, there’s a bit of Cuba (“Butterfly Woman”), a bit of Asylum Street Spanker-esque vaudeville (“On the Prairie”) and some thundering “Sing Sing Sing” drumming (“Lightning”).

Slick, this recording is, as Yoda might say. But it pales in comparrison to the real thing. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy this album, but if the Cats ever swing (pun not intended) by your side of the cosmos, do yourself a favor and see them.