Oh boy we’re well into October and I’m still catching up on September releases. Catl (spelled that way on Bandcamp, but spelled “Catl.” on Amazon and spelled “catl.” on their album art – I’m going with Bandcamp’s spelling cause not capitalizing after a period is difficult in this word processor) is a group I discovered by chance when Punknews.org announced the then upcoming release of this album. Described in that article as “Canadian blues punk,” I was obligated by my Black Pistol Fire obsession to check them out. Their back catalog didn’t disappoint. I was charmed by all four of their previous albums, but could only really afford one (sometimes you have to buy one album and wear it out before you get another) so I somewhat arbitrarily picked Soon This Will All Be Gone as the first album I would get, mostly because it had a Leadbelly cover as it’s closing song. It’s a fantastic album, very reminiscent of Black Pistol Fire’s first two albums as I had been hoping.
I started to write that Catl is like if John Lee Hooker had recorded with Canned Heat, before remembering that he did and it turned out quite like Catl (although, unlike Catl, those recordings weren’t terribly well produced). The guitar tones are something like if The Dead Kennedies recorded in a swamp, but the harmonica wails like Al Wilson used to play it with Son House, and the licks are all built off the blues scale. The most distinctly bluesy aspect of Catl tho is the emphasis on rhythm. Punk originally had quite a focus on rhythm, listening to The Ramones or The Sex Pistols will remind you of that, but in the 80s or 90s, punk became more about noise than rhythm. Catl brings that emphasis back and gives it a bluesy twist. While traditional punk had quite conventional drumming, the drummer acting as a metronome and the guitars were the center of rhythmic flair, Catl utilizes its percussion to be more than a metronome in the blues tradition.
All this stays true on Biding My Time Until I Die. The album kind of blends the lines between tracks and sounds like one big romp through the blues. The tracks aren’t all the same, but the mood is so consistent it’s easy to lose track of when they’re changing, with the exception of “Keys to the Kingdom.” The highlighting of the magnificent slide work on that track and the grim drum style sets that song apart from the rest of the album – as any closing track should.
Overall Biding My Time Until I Die is a solid addition to Catl’s solid catalog. It continues all the things that make them great blues punk without feeling repetitious or redundant. Their brand of distorted foot stomping blues is one that I eagerly await more of.
Elizabeth von Teig is a musician and author living in Brighton, Massachusetts. Her expertise is classic rock, folk punk, and the blues.