Cheatahs by Cheatahs (Wichita Recordings)
I’ve fallen hard for a band called Cheatahs. They’ve toured with Dinosaur Jr. and Wavves and Fidlar in the States and they hit all the notes that turn me on with heavily distorted guitars, quiet vocals as counterpoint to the noise. With all the effects and volume you’ll also find a find sense of pop melodicism throughout, with some exceptional instrumentation. Cheatahs could have simply relied on the template, with their use and abuse of effects and filters but this four-piece can truly play.
Their self-titled bull length follows two EPs, Coared and SANS, which where combined for stateside release as Extended Plays. Cheatahs begins in earnest with Geographic‘s blast of fresh air, full of promise. Nathan Hewitt and James Wignall’s distortion-drenched and finger-shredding guitars tromp and skitter, Hewitt’s vocals float on the heat rising from the fast-paced percussion. Northern Exposure follows, guitars like torn speakers, accompanied by kilter vocals that exude innocence and light. Mission Creep slows the pace, the bass and vocals taking on a smoky atmosphere as the guitars alternately shimmer and crunch.
From the opening riffs of The Swan, Cheatahs announce their intentions in blazing fashion, with a revved up lead and minor chord backing guitar and vocals that are more prominent in the mix. The band wind you up, let you take a breather and then wind you up some more with muscle and harmony. Just when you they can’t take you higher, the song climaxes in an all-out hackles-raising instrumental. IV showcases Cheatahs’ love for certain early 90’s bands in their layered effects, abuse of the whammy bar, string-bending and guitar as atmosphere as well as once again tugging at your heart with their musicality. Fall is the prettiest song on the album, Marc Raue’s snare cutting through the haze of slow, chorused vocals, chiming and churning guitars and Dean Reid’s subterranean bass. Cheatahs’ self-titled album closes with the comforting Loon Calls, the drawn-out vocals offering hope as the guitars build and drop, pushing your troubles away with their dueling lines, the minor chords are joined by atmospheres that fill your head with sweet, sweet noise.
Even if you’re familiar with Cheatah’s touchstones you’ll appreciate their enthusiastic balance of heaviness and light.
(by Bret Miller)