Reviewed by Kit Burns
Cat House Dogs/That Was Now
The Cat House Dogs’ second album That Was Now opens with a thick layer of jangling guitars, raspy vocals, and the most guttural roots-rock since the heyday of Jason & the Scorchers. While many of today’s Americana acts play it twee and safe, the Cat House Dogs aren’t afraid to get drunk and burn the barn down. Pass the whiskey, please.
If you fondly recall Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in their ticked-off late ’70s/early ’80s period, before their midtempo numbers started creeping up the charts and followed by duets with Stevie Nicks, the Cat House Dogs are definitely bowling in your alley. The first track, “Fine Line,” is what the Jayhawks would’ve sounded like if they woke up with a hangover and then discovered that their tour bus was stolen. It is Americana delivered raw with brass knuckles. “Do It” marries the downward grunge of Soundgarden with the raunchy blues of Reverend Horton Heat. “Beautiful Rays,” “Far Away,” and “Never in a Million Years” are cut with Petty’s flannel but delivered without the watered-down studio gloss. Then, just when you think you have the Cat House Dogs pegged, they leave you with the reggae-inflected “Lost Again” just to mess you up. The uptight critics might pull their hair; that’s just too bad, ain’t it?