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The Purrs

The Purrs

(Sarathan Records; US: 12 Sep 2006; UK: Available as import)

Oh, right. Now I remember why I get excited to try out new music. Its’ because, sometimes, that CD I took a chance on will turn out to be a great debut album from an obscure (thus far) indie band. Such is the case with the premier, self-titled full-length from Seattle’s the Purrs. From the city of grunge, which put an end to the jangly Americana pop underground of the late 1980s, comes this quartet who owe a great debt to the college rock template created by bands like Dream Syndicate, the Church, and Galaxie 500. Two guitars, bass, drums, and the highly expressive vocals of Jima are the stuff the Purrs are made of (to paraphrase one of their song titles). The band’s big hook is their lead singer, although he’s bound to drive some listeners out of the room with his elastic vocals. Jima reminds me, all at once, of Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners), Peter Garrett (Midnight Oil), Tim Booth (James), and Ken Foreman (the underappreciated Thrashing Doves). Like all of his forefathers, Jima sings in a snarling whine with the occasional hiccup… and it sounds great!

The Purrs also have nine catchy, solidly well-written, and surprisingly mature songs that will quickly lure you in. From the jerky rhythms of the poppy opener “She’s Gone” to the aptly named “Ebb & Flow”, with its codeine sway, these guys infuse each track with melodies that are subtle yet instantly enthralling. “Loose Talk” is a major highlight, with an insistent chorus, some nice “sha-la-la"s, and a thick delay on the guitar reminiscent of Marty Wilson-Piper. And there’s not a clunker to be found on The Purrs. Thanks to their fans at Seattle’s super-cool radio station, KEXP, this very promising band is deservedly on the verge of launching out of the small-time. Matador, Merge, Yep Roc? I hope the A&R folks at the cool, bigger-time indie labels are paying attention. And I hope you are, as well. You might not have heard of the Purrs before today, but, if there’s any justice in this world, you’ll soon be able to brag to your friends about how you got in on the ground floor.


Michael Keefe is a freelance music journalist, an independent bookstore publicist, and a singer/guitarist/songwriter in a band. Raised on a record collection of The Beatles, Coltrane, Mozart, and Ravi Shankar, Michael has been a slave to music his whole life. At age 16, he got a drum set and a job at a record store, and he's been playing and peddling music ever since. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife (also a writer, but not about music), two cats, and a whole lot of instruments and CDs.

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