It has been a busy year of recording and touring for the Cheatahs. In February of 2015 the band release their EP Sunne and followed it up with the EP Murasaki in late March, the band ends the year with their second full length release, Mythologies. Sunne and Murasaki were fantastic blends of byrdsian noise pop, guitar jangle and full frontal shoegaze. On Mythologies the band steps away slightly from their shoegaze constraints into something even more spectacular.
The band was formed in 2009 by vocalist Nathan Hewitt and guitarist James Wignall. They recruited bassist Dean Reid and Drummer Mark Raue completing the formation of their band. The band calls London home, but are a quasi UN of sorts with the quartet members coming from different countries. Hewitt is Canadian, Reid an American, Raue German and Wignall is from the UK.
The recording of Mythologies was a bit of a nomadic experience. It was self produced by the band over the period of a year in various studios. The studios included Chem 19 studios in Glascow, studios in London, a church in Ramgate and also drummer Raue’s shared home in a monolithic high rise over looking MI5 offices. It was also over this period that the band organized a gallery based improvisation noise show. The band has toured the UK, Europe and the US supporting both of this year’s released EP’s. Currently the band is in the US touring to support Mythologies.
Like the EPs released this year the name and lyrical content of Mythologies was influenced by literature the band was reading. Sunne was inspired by Hemmingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. Murasaki was influenced by Japanese novelist Murasaki Shikibu and her novel “tale of the Genji”. Mythologies takes its inspiration from Roland Bathes’ collection of essays on semiotics and myth. Barthe’s essays explore; Freudian Screen Memory, the fluidity of memory, Meta Modernism, and Neo Mysticism all of which worked upon the band while recording the album.
Mythologies is an amalgam of manic rhythms and garage ambient punk married to the band’s signature shoe gaze experimentation. Here however they leave some of the haze of the noise genre behind breaking into a more technicolor universe of sonic wonder. The album starts off with Red Lakes subtitled Sternstunden or German for finest hour. The gauzy start is disrupted by distorted looped vocals and powerful percussion. It has this soaring trippy sound that is instantly addictive and show a progression from this year’s earlier releases.
Submerged guitar signatures set off the song Channel View. The song steps away from the shoegaze genre making for a more mainstream altie song. It like all the songs on the release is somewhat brief and does not go over the 5 minute mark. Unlike many shoegaze songs that can go on and on for a while, there is definite structure to this song and all the songs on this release. It is as if the band wanted to build the anticipation for each song without wearing out the listener. The song is impactful and concise.
Watching TV has a classic 90’s alternative feel, harkening to a slower tempo Jesus and the Mary Chain. This song is a definite grower that is laden with hooks. This is a song that displays how the band takes the shoegaze genre and allows it to underpin the experimentation the band dabbles in while added other influences. The results are a stellar track. In Flux jump starts the tempo after the slower Watching TV. It is energy filled with a definite post-punk vibe. It recalls the Pixies at their harmonic best along with echoing REM vocals back in their early days. The delightful harmony belies the gritty punk accompaniment.
The Jesus and the Mary Chain influenced Freak Waves would have had no problem fitting in with the band’s Sunne EP, it is a sonic fest that could be the companion to their song “Controller”.
The album really hits it stride with Signs to Lorelei which has this magnificent pulled around keyboard sound. The song is backed by solid percussion. It contains less feedback with cleaner production. The lulling majestic song has great vocal harmonization making it oh so good. Following Signs to Lorelei is the catchy enthralling Hey, Sen which seems to blend the best of Husker Du, Pixies and Jesus and the Mary Chain but with the imprimatur of the Cheatahs great guitar and reverb vocal making it their own. The song addresses themes of memory and yearning.
Deli, Rome has a wonky guitar intro and breaks into a very organic garage band sound if somewhat off kilter. It is filled with energy and aggression and will be barn burner live. Colorado is a return to the band’s wheelhouse, full frontal shoe gaze sonic attack. It is trippy and swirling and for fans it is a track that will not disappoint.
One of my personal favorites on the album is Su-pra which starts off segueing from Colorado with this explosive pinball arcade sound. The song is a forceful psychedelic take no prisoners rocker. It is simply prismatic sonic goodness. This song also segues right into Seven Sisters which is not as aggressive but still bright and powerful with the guitars guiding the way. The multi track vocal makes for an ebb and flow giving an oscillating feeling. The song builds and builds to a majestic climax.
The song Murasaki is included on this LP but was first available on the EP this March of the same name. It plays in the same signature sound that the Cheatahs displayed on that EP and Sunne. The song is another solid track that is jam packed with arresting listening moments. It gives a feeling of interstellar sound along with the English and Japanese lyrics that make for a disembodied feeling. Mysteci has an ambient feeling with the distorted guitar lulling like the ocean, it is psychedelic and ethereal. “Reverie Bravo” the final song on the release is percussion driven with keyboards at the forefront and a definite change up from the wonky guitar distortion found at times throughout the release.
With Mythologies Cheatahs fans will find much to like and for those who are first investigating the band’s efforts you are in for an addictive experience. I have found when encountering the Cheatahs’ prior works that the songs grow on you with each listen. The songs grab hold and stay with you. By the band looking to expand their horizons beyond the genre of Shoegaze and incorporating various other styling they have created an engaging work. Dabbling in electronica, psychedelic and post punk has widened the palette of the band giving them new tools to work with in the studio. Well done!