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Album Review: Nightmare & the Cat – Nightmare & the Cat EP

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LA-based Nightmare & the Cat comes with rock’s equivalent of the silver spoon. As the progeny of Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics and Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Sam and Django Stewart may already hold an all-access pass to stardom. A step up certainly helps an emerging band by creating buzz and expectations, but at the end it’s the music that counts. On that score, this is a polished debut and arguably better seen as a sampler than a complete album. There’s hardly room for filler, and space is left for the band to develop ahead of a future full-length offering.

The five-track, self-titled EP kicks into life with “Sarah Beth”, which has a touch of Jeff Buckley meets U2 on a date with The Pixies in its opening verses, while the chorus throws Arcade Fire into the mix. For all that, it’s an intriguing song that spins you through different moods and lyrically offers imagery that cuts through its personal center. Django Stewart has a fine voice that combines strength with sensitivity and feeling, while his brother is a skilled guitar player and adds intuitive harmonies along with his girlfriend, instrumentalist Claire Acey. The brothers share writing credits on the EP.

The young band has clearly listened to a lot of music and absorbed a raft of influences, so the songs do not fall into easy categorization. The bluesy opening to “The Missing Year” scarcely prepares you for the strong sing-along chorus that concludes it, while the brass on “Forgive Me, Sonny” is an unexpected treat, as is the kazoo ending. “Little Poet” stands out for its keen melody lines and bursts of chiming guitar, though the final cut, the short and intense spoken-sung “Anyone’s Bride”, is a bit of a throwaway by comparison. However, you can’t fail to be both impressed by the overall quality of this debut and intrigued as to where this particular nightmare will take you next.

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