I just got back from seeing Denali, a band I work with, who were great. The band that opened, Catfish Haven , are my newest favorite local Chicago band as of 8 pm CST 2/11/2004. The band name alone had kept me scared off for a year, as it's sounds like the result of a very-stoned band meeting or possibly a Phish tribute band. They have scraggly un-ironic beards and no fashion sense at all. So midwestern, or rather, old school midwestern, in that regard. Here is the equation for the raw power of the Haven: The Band's "The Night They Drove Dixie Down" from Last Waltz + In Utero's most wistful furnace blast + early Willy Nelson. The singer's voice has a vulnerability that I identify as feminine. Hooks so huge, they clearly have no idea what they are on to, with mid-bridge time changes into -- what are they called -- triplettes? -- the time/beat thats on the J.Lo/R.Kelly song that on the radio right now --
Anyhow, Catfish Haven , isn't like... Drag City hands-folded/dick-out kind of "country"-influenced musical-riddle we usually get around here, which is nice.
The CD is quite good, not as heavy nor as mournful as live, but more sublime and I hate this word - but "sexy"... Like, you know on Richard Buckner's records about his divorce, that splintered pleading air that shims the disgust and bereavement? Theres lots of that kind of sweet pleading here, but it's young, and hopeful, still believes in love and romance and just wants to get drunk and make out with you on the porch, regardless of whether you got a new boyfriend or not. The CD just swells with that. Listening to them makes me wish they were playing again tomorrow.
Also, some final details: Miguel, the bass player's mom fronted the money for the CD, and they are paying her back CD by CD. When you visit their website, a bird ka-caws at you, which scared the shit out of me, and thusly is total genius - animal surprise is woefully underutilized on the internet. And, at thier shows Catfish Haven plays in front of a white bed-sheet that is spraypainted in black with thier band name, like they are playing the high school talent show.
I love that!