The music scene in Minneapolis has always been a conundrum to me. A lot of times you can say a city and I immediately connect it with a style of music (Chicago=blues, NYC=indie rock, and so on). But Minneapolis has given us The Replacements, Prince, and the hip-hop crew Rhymesayers. It’s this eclecticism that draws me to the Twin Cities, and it seems to be embraced by the new generation of DIY bands doing their thing in the frozen north.
What Tyrants released Kill The Cat back in March of this year as a free download on Bandcamp. Like so many things, it passed me by and it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I got to hear the record. I’ve been overjoyed, as this seems like a record that I would make if I were in a band (luckily I’m not). It takes traditional blues rock and mixes in some funk and soul, as well as modern indie rock. Using some easily indentifiable sounds to lure the listener in, it isn’t long before these genres are turned on their head and made new again.
The album relies heavily on the instrumental abilities of the players, and the four members of the band all show off a bit of what they can do. The group started off with Sean Schultz laying down piano tracks on his own before recruiting his brother Kyle to join in on drums. They brought Nick Stotesbery on to play guitar and later added Adam Sullivan to slap the bass. All this happened in 2011, and you’d never guess that these guys have only been playing together for a year. They have a real chemistry on the record that’s undeniable.
Stotesbery, in particuar, gets some moments of sheer brilliance in the spotlight. His work on “Make It Ugly” is understated but impressive. Combined with Kyle’s drumming, they take the song from funk to afro-beat to blues and back again. The end of the song is just just a whirl of fuzz in the most psychedelic moment on the record. It becomes evident quite quickly that these guys understand how to jam every kind of music they love into every song and make it sound good.
One of my personal favorites off the record is “Red Giants.” Sean Schultz orchestrates a song of keys and effects that could come straight out of a Angelo Badalamenti score. It’s haunting and a little creepy. By the time it starts to build and the drums kick in, you think you’ve left the album entirely and moved onto something completely different. It’s a nice interlude for the record to break up a couple songs that have a similar foundation.
Kill The Cat is a great debut for a band that I can easily see doing very well for themselves. They don’t seem to have any fear when it comes to trying new things. They’re also smart enough to know when they need to use a sonic cue that feels familiar to the listener, like the organ part in “Royal Soul” that immediately reminds me of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man.”
Currently, I only see one date listed on the bands page. Hopefully they add some more and at least tour around the midwest at some point. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, they’re playing September 14th at The 400 Bar.