20th December 2020
I thought I would share a recent album from one of my top Aussie bands to emerge over the last 20 years, The Cat Empire. I have featured tracks from them in the past, but want to focus on the last album, Stolen Diamonds, today. It was released at the beginning of last year, and although dedicated Cat Empire fans are likely to know (and enjoy listening to) the three tracks I’m featuring today, this is a heads-up about a fantastic album from a brilliant band for those who may have missed out
Stolen Diamonds is the band’s eighth release and is a journey through styles ranging from Funk, Afrobeat, Reggae & Ska and some West African influences, all imbued with their unique Aussie twist and outstanding musical skills. This is probably why it debuted at #4 on the ARIA charts, making it the 6th album of The Cat Empire to have entered the charts within the top 10.
The band has fully embraced using both the traditional format of album release combined with full digital coverage for the streaming market. This saw them release 8 singles over the year leading up to the official release of Stolen Diamonds. The reasoning being that with more people compiling and uploading public playlists, they are essentially all individual radio stations, and therefore an excellent marketing medium. The singles were chosen for that market, while the full release is for the listener who appreciates the completely immersive experience that only a full album can give.
Talking of immersive, the digital singles are accompanied by a 360° video which allows you to scroll around the studio while the recording is in progress. More about the album in part two. In the meantime here’s a song that is as upbeat as the title suggests, Saturday Night.
In an interview with the Australian media, frontman Felix Riebl paid tribute to the huge global fanbase, but particularly to their fans from their homeland. They have selected a very lucky number of fans from their a database and will deliver a copy of Stolen Diamonds in person. “It’s just a little way of giving back,” said Riebl.
On the subject of singles versus an album, he had this to say “An album gives you a whole atmosphere. When you release singles you get bursts of a feeling, different in a way, but with an album, they all come together. Maybe I’m old-school in that way, but I’m still very attached to the album. You can play it on your road-trip when you’re cooking dinner, whatever. You can take an entire journey and for me, that’s what an album is.”
Although loved as a live band with their energetic performances, not many fans realise the work that goes behind creating the experience. Felix explains “A lot of people assume what we do, but there are months of making music and you put a lot of energy and life’s blood into that and when you get onto a stage, you sweat with an audience. The atmosphere of performing live exhausts you enough that you’re wrecked enough to write more songs. They feed each other.”
“I guess we’ve been through a big wave of the music industry and they’ve [the fans] seen a lot of it … It’s good to celebrate with the fans what we’ve achieved and it’s good to remember we have made a real career out of working really hard on albums and trying to develop an atmosphere around them.” The second track from Stolen Diamonds is another upbeat party tune and a Cat Empire future classic, Adelphia.
A constant throughout this and all the albums I have listened to is the sheer musicality of The Cat Empire. This is testament to what is, essentially, a perennial band of music students who constantly look for ways to bring new musical influences to their already wide range of sounds.
The band’s mastery of Cuban, Afrobeat and Caribbean music is legendary, the whole package seems far more refined on this new album, and shows an evolution that comes with two decades in the industry.
Although some may complain that The Cat Empire’s songs are not particularly masterpieces of writing, I think they are missing the point. The band is the epitome of feel-good, and music that you can enjoy without over-analyzing the lyrics or sub-plot. I suppose that as with most bands, they are not for everyone, but they don’t have to be. The sheer volume of fans of all ages spread throughout the world shows that they are pleasing enough people that the few don’t matter.
I’m closing today with the track Oscar Wilde. I first heard the song a while ago and it is has become one of my Cat Empire favourites. Thanks for spending some time with the masters of feel-good today. Have a lovely Sunday. Catch you soon.
The Loving the Music mini-features are written and compiled by me to support Loving the Music Facebook page and group. Join the community for regular themed three-part posts that do do more than just share a song.
The Author owns no copyright on the images or videos in this article. All images and links sourced from YouTube and Google and within the public domain.
Words © Andrew Knapp 2020