The Catheters: Howling... It Grows and Grows!!!

Ryan Potts

The Catheters

Howling... It Grows and Grows!!!

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2004-05-18
UK Release Date: 2004-06-28

Blame the Strokes, blame the White Stripes, but what is clear is that whatever spawned the rock revivalists to pick up guitars again needs to stop. I believe it is time to be a bit more farsighted than Is This It.

Just like 2002's Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days, Howling... It Grows and Grows!!! delivers potent garage-rock virility that easily surpasses the mass appeal of bands like the White Stripes and the Hives in terms of noise, aggression, energy, and swagger. The Catheters opt for an aesthetic that has seethed through the underground since bands like Blue Cheer were active instead of whatever has resonated on radio airwaves.

It is no surprise, then, that the Catheters end up sounding like they do: drunk on adrenaline and gloriously noisy. Think MC5's vintage, dirty and untreated garage physique. Think Unwound's wide-eyed craze for mayhem. Think Mudhoney's disorderly disposition.

However, when listening to Howling, you immediately recall the bands that shaped the Catheters -- the Stooges and the Germs among them -- and realize that this Seattle foursome are merely the derivative second generation of the aforementioned artists. Whereas the Catheters are far more exciting, abrasive, and vivacious than whatever MTV is passing off as rock 'n' roll these days, they seem all too plagiaristic when compared to the garage-rock kings they so obviously idolize.

As for the songs themselves, Howling is comprised of 11 tracks that all revolve around the same all too familiar musical motifs: fuzzy, raw guitar tones; primal and simplistic drum patterns; vocals that teeter between sneers and screams; rough and jagged production values. Within this strict structure, occasionally songs surface long enough to make an impact. "Reaction", for example, features a hip-shaking drum stomp while Brian Standeford howls and spits syllables all over the track's few minutes. Likewise, "Brave Drum" throws more searing guitars into the mix as a genuinely catchy vocal melody propels the track to fall out of obscurity.

Caught between the stylistic slash-and-burn rock 'n' roll popularized by the Stooges before the four members of the Catheters were even born and the current onslaught of insipid garage revivalists, the Catheters are left to be crushed between the extremes of now and then. Howling... It Grows and Grows!!! proves to rise above the mess of mediocrity currently clogging up the rock market (if just barely), but is nothing but an illegitimate child from rock's real history (read: the MC5, the Velvet Underground, Mudhoney). Now, if they could only begin to write songs of their own....

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.