Artist: Cat Butt
Title: Journey to the Center of…
Label: Sub Pop Records, Glitterhouse
Format: 12” vinyl EP
As we continue through this series of not-so-well-known grunge/punk/garage rock stuff, it’s no surprise that Cat Butt would come into the picture. They surfaced in 1987 only to disband in 1990, and it featured James Burdyshaw (formally of 64 Spiders, and eventually of Sinister Six and Yummy), Charlie Ryan (of U-Men), Tom Price (U-Men, Gas Huffer, Kings of Rock and Monkeywrench), Dean Gunderson (of Jack O’Fire), and Dave Duet (not much I could dig up on him). Since many of the band members had its roots in proto-grunge bands, it certainly left an impact on their sound.
This EP came out shortly after Sub Pop’s evolution from a music zine, made primarily of cassettes, to a fully-fledged label, pumping out vinyl rich with the new sounds of the Seattle area. To put things in perspective, Green River, Soundgarden, Blood Circus, The Fluid, and Girl Trouble had all released their early material here, while Tad, Nirvana and Mudhoney released their debut albums the same year.
As for the sound of Cat Butt, well… it’s loud and raw. We open with a rocking and gritty ballad about someone named Maximo and Joe. It’s a song about the characters’ exploits of bad trips, drinking and death. Otherwise, this song is rather off the wall. Sound-wise, it isn’t a bad start to the EP. The next track is reminiscent of certain Mudhoney tracks in terms of guitar styling. The vocals still have a wild flame to them and they tie in well with the structure and feel of the piece. The final track on this side of the vinyl, “3 Eyes,” is a rapid tune much in the same vein of the previous two songs.
The B-side opens with “Born Loser.” The guitar, hinting perhaps at The Kinks, stomps us into the heart of the track. It’s a party-flavored tune, as we’re back on the subject of drinking. I’m noticing a theme here. “Sedgewick,” takes forever to get started, as the opening sounds more like it’s a song trying its best to end. Finally, a melancholy guitar plucks up and some stronger vocals wheeze in. The tone is a little more serious than it had been all album long up to this point. It certainly makes for a stronger track. Our final piece is “Zombie.” It has a punk / garage rock air to it, keeping up with the party feel. It fits in fine with the other tracks but there’s not much more I can say about it.
The EP over all isn’t bad. Despite it being released in 1989, it sounds a tad bit earlier. That actually helps this EP move along and gives it a more garage feel. The tone isn’t very serious, though. It’s kind of goofy, especially that first track, and the album as a whole feels like a party. Again, that’s not bad. This has a lot of replay value despite that, and it is easy to see connections between this release and its predecessors (mainly the 64 Spider’s “Potty Swat”).
Should you buy this? If you’re looking for grunge, keep in mind that this is the grungiest of the grunge albums from this time period. Perhaps one could compare it to My Eye, Blood Circus or Tad in terms of noise and influences, but I find it more of a wilder garage rock-ish type thing. It’s not bad but it’s not perfect. If you’re into the Sinister Six, The Night Kings, Yummy or Bundle of Hiss, this may be to your liking. If you’re not into the noisy side of grunge and prefer later Nirvana or Alice in Chains, this obviously won’t be for you.
Cat Butt only released one other single, “64 Funny Cars,” and released the track “Big Cigar” on the Sub Pop 200 compilation before vanishing. This EP never got a reissue and most liker never will. However, in recent years, there’s been sort of a cult following for lesser known grunge albums, which is a pretty cool thing. Some of these obscure bands pumped out some incredible tunes and Cat Butt is no exception. This is only available on vinyl and is not terribly pricey if you know where to look.
3.9 out of 5