Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Album Review: Fantastic Cat - Now That's What I Call Fantastic Cat

Fantastic Cat
Now That's What I Call Fantastic Cat
**** out of *****

Back in 2022, Fantastic Cat released their dynamite debut album, and since the band was four individual songwriters coming together, it felt as if it was a special one off event. Thankfully it wasn't as the groups follow up record, Now That's What I Call Fantastic Cat arrives and the musical returns are just as positive as their debut. 

The band, Anthony D'Amato, Brian Dunne, Don DiLego, and Mike Montali link up effortlessly Each takes a turn writing, playing various instruments, and singing lead throughout the record in the vein of Traveling Wilburys or Monsters of Folk. Their sophomore album feeds on all the positives of their debut and while it might not have the individual highpoints of that album ("Fiona" or "Wild & Free"), it is even more consistently solid throughout. 

Right from the drop, "Oh Man" is a banging, straight ahead rocker with glam touches of Sweet musically sprinkled in around smirking lyrics that reflect upon modern day political issues and paying the rent in unique ways. The tempo stays upbeat with wah-wah guitar and a playful rambling tone reminiscent of Dr. Dog on "Little Bit Broken" while "Later On" shows off the band's harmonies in dramatic fashion around ringing guitars.    

Lead single "So Glad You Made It" has a guest appearance from Adam Duritz as the band continues to sing sweetly with added accordion while "The Hammer & The Nail" brings in mandolin and some country twang. Less successful is the introduction of baroque influences which simply aren't needed in middle of the stuttering folk rocking "I Don't Know Why". The band works best when things are direct, and when small studio detours are added, the clutter can distract. 

The band successfully kicks it up for the revving "Go All Night" which pulls inspiration from Born In The USA era Springsteen using synth and repetition excellently while "Edinburgh" has some roots in Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby", but works incredibly well on its own, spinning a tale around cutting guitars. The band locks in with galloping fashion on the humorous "All My Fault" deploying folk rock with unbridled joy as the bouncy song pumps along.  

The reverse tape starts the piano power ballad, dramatically swelling "Sometimes Your Heroes Let You Down" before things close with a smoky, 70's inspired, banging rocker "Head Down, Shots Fired" that feels like it should be a backing track to a climatic action sequence in a big budget flick. 

Overall, these four artists work exceedingly well with each other as Now That's What I Call Fantastic Cat continues Fantastic Cats mix of classic rock, folk, and Americana in winning fashion. Here's hoping the band keeps working together as their potent delivery has spawned two excellent albums so far.    
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