Say "Hell Yeah" to "Catbirds Say Yeah"
By: Sam Houghton, August 29, 2012
RACHEL JARVIS - What is a Catbird? If Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga had quadruplets, except somehow they ended up being kind of musical in addition to being rather large and rubbery, and it happened about 50 or 60 years ago, well, presto!
The Catbirds, a rabble-rousing rock n’ roll band that calls the Lower Cape home, are set this week to release their first full-length album, Catbirds Say Yeah.
What better excuse for an end-of-season party at the Beachcomber?
The band is fronted by Chandler Travis of Eastham and Steve Wood of Orleans, two defiant and experienced Cape musicians joined by drummer Rikki Bates and Dinty Child on guitar and mandocello.
Catbirds Say Yeah!
The Catbirds' CD Release party
Friday, August 31 @ 9 PMWellfleet Beachcomber 1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet
$10 cover charge
The album will also be available at Booksmith and Instant Karma in Orleans and online at thecatbirds.net.
Their prerogative: to make loud and original music, a daunting task on Cape Cod. But the band plugs at it anyways, speed bumps be darned. According to Wood, the band was offered money by the brass at Grumpy’s Pub in Falmouth to quit playing at a recent gig.
As Wood explains, “He said we were too loud for them, so we turned the music down instead.”
Pop this baby in and hit cruise control
But there are sweeter spots coming up for The Catbirds, like the main slot at the Wellfleet Beachcomber and a mini tour to New York, where they will be headlining at the esteemed Knitting Factory and playing a gig in Woodstock at the Bearsville Theater in September.
As hard as it can be to play original music in a beach resort community, Catbirds Say Yeah, does not surrender to the tourist-pleasing vibe. From the opening number, “All I Wanna Know Is,” with a honking harp intro and crashing guitars, all the way through to the end of the album, it is a guns-blazing rock statement.
With brash and entertaining lyrics, the band could be compared to a more modern and hardcore Kinks. And while the band might be loud, it is not chaotic or loose. There is not much variety between the 12 tracks, but the sound is tight and proficient, creating a windows-down, highway-cruising, crank-this-tune-up kind of album.
The louder, the better
A popular face in the Lower Cape music scene, Travis has a thirst for playing loud music. The Catbirds is the quench for that thirst, something many of his other bands like The Incredible Casuals and the Chandler Travis Three-O are not able to capture.
“I needed to have a loud rock band with Steve [Wood],” says Travis, when asked how the band originated.
The two once fronted a band called Lester together, an homage to Lester Bangs that was shelved when other projects kept interfering. When time freed up, Travis became restless again, finally forming The Catbirds with Wood in 2010.
Much of the writing on the album comes from Travis, but he will jump at any chance he can to call Wood the inspiration for the band.
Wood’s history as a musician started when he was a teenager in the early ‘80s, playing in a popular hardcore band called The Freeze. The Freeze were troubadours in the Cape Cod punk scene, playing sparse venues like the now-defunct Mill Hill Club in West Yarmouth, which housed touring hardcore bands like Black Flag.
And with this album, The Catbirds bring back a taste of a louder, more punk rock Cape Cod.