Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...
Window Cat just released their album Land On Your Feet, a groove-soaked soundscape that is as much jass as it is rock, as funky and fun as it is political and meditative. They'll be celebrating the album's release this Saturday at Asheville Music Hall, where they open for West Coast jazz and soul group Con Brio.
Land On Your Feet highlights the band's versatility, whose creativity and originality is rooted in a deep understanding of instrumentality, songwriting, and musical tradition. Window Cat's wide-ranging influences include Haitus Kaiyote, Snarky Puppy, and Vulfpeck, and it's easy to trace the sound back to the jazz, soul, and funk greats. There's a distinctly late 60s/early 70s feel to the tracks, with their R&B beats, synth effects, layered vocals, and shimmering saxophone solos.
This is an upbeat album, and even more serious subject matter—the state of the world in our current moment, the importance of uncovering truth in the face of propaganda—is folded into jazzy sequences that keep the sound vibrant and the energy high. "Agent Orange," with its Trump reference front and center in the title, is perhaps the most overtly political on the album, highlighting the power of community in the face of tyranny. It's a call to action and a reminder of the unity of everyone on the planet. It's one of the more intense tracks on the album, with heavier, darker measures made more dramatic by the fact that multiple instruments are playing the same notes at the same time, which leads to a compounding effect.
The second song on the album, "Not Yet," transports us to an altogether different mood. At its heart, this is an electric guitar-infused love song, an intimate plea to the object of one's affection, "a diamond in the sky," to stick around and weather the hard times and rough seas of a relationship. The bounce carries on through the song's instrumental ending, which features a keyboard riff and a distorted voicemail message that finally fades away into snyth notes.
The third track, "Place To Be," is one of the richest on the album. Marked by a satisfying complexity on the instrumental and vocal levels, the structure of the song itself is reflected by its theme of self-discovery and exploration. "Unifire" is also a strong track, opening with mellifluous, dreamy guitar that clicks over into sharply accentuated piano, sax, and percussion. The impressive capabilities of all seven members of Window Cat are front and center on this song, which by its midpoint breaks down and is reshaped into a final section, characterized by a driving beat and electric bass that finally crescendos to its sweeping end.
"Queen Sized Paradise," an ode to the sensuality of a new relationship, is endearing in its frankness: "I'm ready now, show me how to wake up in your queen-sized bed." It's also features hip hop-style rhymes, showing yet another side of the versatile group.
"View of You" is another stand-out. It's a passionate plea to "be who you are" by rebutting attempts at manipulation and misdirection. Next comes "The Predicament," another high-energy, jazz-infused song that segues into the mellower "Parabellum," which opens with soft, lilting vocals and a Pangi shaker that adds a burbling, watery quality. The album ends with "Ergo," a philosophical entreaty to "take back your throne, bury all your fears beneath it, [and] break the mirror that's within your consicence."
If the album is a journey, than it tracks the process from an initial period of awakening in a hypnotized society to a final rupture of the ego. The rebirthed personality finds its ultimate expression in a return to self and to a space of power and love. Land On Your Feet explores different kinds of connections, and ultimately identifies connection itself as the most important action humans can take in this life.
Land On Your Feet is available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Physical copies will be for sale at the show. See Window Cat live at Asheville Music Hall this Saturday, May 13th. The show starts at 8 pm. Get tickets now ($10 in advance/$13 at the door).
Find Window Cat on Facebook here.