Earlier this year, in April, I had the great pleasure of catching a set by Kitten when they opened for The Joy Formidable at The Vic. Their stage presence was immediately noticed as they ripped through songs from their other recent EP Cut It Out. Chloe Chaidez tore the stage apart as she shimmied, shook, and snarled across every inch of the boards. Backed up by a great group of young musicians, they made the following set by Guards feel like watching paint dry. Even Ritzy Bryan, who is an amazing performer, seemed to pale in comparison to these upstarts.
Like A Stranger came out last week, so I’m a little late with this, but you won’t want to waste any more time before you check it out. It’s definitely a step forward from Cut It Out, but it doesn’t quite capture the energy of the live show. I don’t know that there is a way, other than actually being there, to experience that visceral rush of a talented band laying it all out in front of you.
The title track opens the EP, and it’s ripped right out a “Totally 80’s” megamix. Animotion, Depeche Mode, Madonna…they’re all here. I do find it a bit odd that people born in the 90’s (and I mean mid-90’s), would be so interested in 80’s music. They do a great job with it, though. And it doesn’t feel like they’re just aping the period. It actually feels very organic and sincere. They did cover Prince’s “Purple Rain” when I saw them, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. I’m also pretty happy with the lyrical content here and through the rest of the record. Chaidez could have easily fallen into the schmaltzy trap that many artists found themselves in, but she proves smart enough to avoid it.
“Doubt” is my favorite song. It’s emotionally raw and the back and forth between Waylon Rector and Chaidez makes it a really compelling listen. It’s the best written song on the album, and there’s even a short shout out to Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell.” It seems to be about that awkward phase where friendship blooms to romance and how usually one person gets there before the other. There’s a lot of anguish and fear that goes along with that, and I think the lines Chaidez sings in the chorus pretty much hit the nail on the head.
I saw the light and maybe that’s the truth
I’ve got 16 years the eloquence of youth
I’ve got you dead to rights that’s the meaning of love
these are the tears I cry until my baby comes
One thing that sets Kitten apart from a lot of bands is that they aren’t afraid to give themselves the space to create exactly what they want. Of the six songs on Like A Stranger, only one is under four minutes. By taking their time, they’re also allowing the listener to dig all the way in and go on this adventure with them. So many bands (especially young ones) are determined to put out radio-ready songs that fit the mold of whatever is currently popular. Kitten is unique in that they know if the music is good, the audience will find it. Not that they need a ton of help-they’ve been featured on Last Call With Carson Daly a couple times already, and they’ve been garnering a lot of buzz with their opening slots all across the country.
Speaking of touring, Kitten will be in Chicago as part of Riot Fest on September 14th (also Denver the following weekend). There was supposed to be a show on 9/13 with Charli XCX, but she’s put her tour on hold so she can keep working on her album. My fingers are crossed that something pops up and Kitten ends up playing at Schubas or something, but it probably won’t happen. You can get Like A Stranger on iTunes for $4.99, or stream it on Spotify.