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Sj Esau - Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse’

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 21 / 1 / 2006

Sj Esau - Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse’
Label: Dulcet Thud
Format: CD


Catchy debut album from Bristol-based singer-songwriter SJ Esau, who mixes the traditional and the contemporary and which sounds like a punkier version of gypsy folk

Bristol seems to be a hot-bed of brilliant and diverse music at the moment (Steveless and Rose Kemp have both recently been featured in Pennyblackmusic.com) and SJ Esau is another shining example. The album, out on Bristol-based label Dulcet Thud, is a collection of traditional-style folk mixed with samples and loops. There is also, I think, a slight hint of a Pogues-esque at some points in the record; a kind of punkier version of gypsy folk, but updated to give it a more contemporary sound. But I could be well off the mark, there. The album opens with the longest of 3 untitled tracks, short sample-bursts and horn blasts. This is followed by first song-proper, ‘Cat Track (He has no balls)’. This is a brilliant song, starting off quietly, with just voice and guitar, and building up with piano and samples, somehow managing to sound eerie and calming at the same time. The song has flashes of the folk-rock style I mentioned earlier, and uses it most effectively at the close of the song; a repetition of “I want to dream the dream of the cat” which builds and builds to make a most satisfying conclusion to a wholly great song. Esau certainly knows how to pick his song titles, ‘Geography (Donkey dancing in the bath)’ being another good one. This song is layered up with lots of effects and a few vocals, and has a cracking horn section to boot. The melody is really catchy too, and in an alternative and better reality you can imagine this being pop music. The drums are really hammered too, which is always a plus in my books. ‘Wears the Control’ is definitely one of my favourite tracks on this album. The chorus is absolutely fantastic, but frustratingly I’m finding it very difficult to explain exactly why, or what it sounds like. Subtly epic is probably the most accurate description I can manage. ‘Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse’ is split into 2 halves, separated by 2 of those aforementioned untitled tracks. These are 6 seconds long each, the first a sort of repeated crunching sound, the second a little bit of strings. These snippettes (they’re not long enough to be snippets) are followed by the bouncy acoustic loveliness of ‘I Got a Bad’, which, well, bounces along very nicely. ‘All Agog’ is another true high-point of the record, opening with a chorus of singers singing “my thoughts turn to alcohol”, which is followed by what sounds like a mobile phone set to vibrate. The verses are really poppy, and the chorus is, again, super-catchy and sing-a-long. ‘Queezy Beliefs’ is quite dark and gothic in sound (gothic in a good way, not like Cradle of Filth or anything like that), and is contrasted by the lo-fi and punky ‘Halfway Up the Pathway’, which is a real foot-tapper and a pleasant change of style. The album closes with ‘Lazy Eye’, which has the most brilliant string part (a cello, I think…?). This is one of those songs that makes you want to just close your eyes and really listen, to pay close attention to every note and be absorbed by the music. Maybe that reads as a little bit pretentious, but it really is the best and most accurate description I can think of. Anyway, who asked you? SJ Esau has a real talent for writing guitar parts which are unusual and beautiful, and his melodies are much the same; his songs a wonderful mix of the traditional and the contemporary. This is definitely a record to get your hands on, and Dulcet Thud is a label you should definitely keep a look out for. In fact, just pay close attention to Bristol in general - it’s where it’s at, don’t you know?

Track Listing:-
2 Cat Track (He Has No Balls)
3 The Wrong Order
4 Geography
5 Wears The Control
8 I Got A Bad
9 All Agog
10 Queezy Beliefs
11 Halfway Up The Pathway
12 Lazy Eye

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