Thursday, May 25, 2023

Cathouse's album - from the Detroit archives


“Cathouse’s album”

The South End

the Wayne State University student newspaper

Detroit, Michigan

1992 (?)

by Andrew/Sunfrog, writing as “Ellen Carryout”

Virtue Undone is the first full-length musical offering from the Corridor rock band Cathouse. These are ten searing songs of characteristically crunchy bass and guitars from Jim Johnson and Eric Walworth, pulsating beats from Tim Suliman, and gutsy lyricism and latent emotion from Elizabeth Underwood’s versatile vocal range.   

Recorded in a homemade Detroit neighborhood studio, mixed downtown, and pressed down south, this cassette chronicles the aural evolution of an energetic idea, born, appropriately enough, from house full of cats in 1989.

At first exposure to this female-fronted four-piece, audiences are tempted to conjure up vocalist images and irresistible icons from the historical fabric of women in rock. Listeners will serve their reception of Cathouse well if they leave all those Janis Joplin and Pretenders comparisons behind.

Elizabeth’s soulful vocal spattering hits like paint splashed on canvas. She’s here “to teach you how to love,” as she carves out a mythic place between transience and grounded mystery which eludes description the moment one thinks it can be pinned down. 

On this visceral yet visionary level, Virtue Undone shall always seem virtually done. Ten songs slither to your heart like a great unfinished novel or a spiritual ascendance which never attains nirvana. Something sought after is always missing as each song lingers, poised on the ephemeral void of vocalized consciousness.

We can sense this unnamed place as Elizabeth sings, frequently sliding out of articulated words into passionately uttered tones which defy placement on intellectual and musical scales alike. Perhaps this is what Elizabeth means when she says she has no place in the world. Or when she sings, “I’m a woman trapped inside, the things they said, I should be.” These songs can heal, or momentarily transform, that universal sense of displacement.

Cathouse touches a groove laid down by Eric’s gritty guitar and rides straight into your heart. Maybe they don’t have a place in the world -- at least the world which inhibits the soul liberation and intimate passion their music portrays. They have a place in the crucial cacophony which reinvents rock n roll every time they take the stage.
Listen to the album -- a lofi rip from my personal collection, shared for educational and entertainment purposes only -- here:

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