Have you ever travelled to Montreal? Actually half of Canada? Me too, but I know a man that did, and even does. Moreover he has long made me aware of The Sainte Catherines; to be honest it was just a name of one of twenty competent Punk bands that a couple of TSC tracks made the odd CD compilation we swapped between mates. So imagine the surprise to be presented with ‘Fire Works’ the new album, face to face with a host of a diverse array of tracks, even more so, compared to the odd track I’d previously strayed upon. Though formed in 1999 this is my first major taste of Sainte Catherines, best to go into some kind of detail.
The band seems to draw on a wide range of influences from 1970’s rock and punk to eighties post punk hardcore. So there are influences that range from Alice Cooper, Kiss, New York Dolls, Ramones. I can also hear traces of bands like Pennywise, Offspring and NOFX and the vocals; remind me of The Styrenes. ‘Fireworks’ contains expansive music ingredients, all are from the various stages of rock and punk make no mistake, there is no one holding their finger in their ear or anything as dumb as that. The Sainte Catherines are far more immediate, engaging and delivered with attitude, you can go from the melodic and 4/4 tempo opening of ‘We Used to Be In Love’ to the full tilt of ‘The Great Somewhere Else’ two very different songs, one large umbrella.
‘BLR Vs Cancer’, also stands out, the song comes across all Styrenes’ (minus the piano) meets the Rocky Horror Show. While the track that could go down as the best soundtrack to that Chicago High School End Of Year Prom; still mired suitably twisted memories, long compressed questions still remain; then as the light finally begins to shine, we go straight into the rock tinged occasionally harmonica driven, ‘Back To The Basement That I Love’. Next up, ‘Maggie And Dave’ has a great classic feel and a king sized hook, then it’s ‘No Friends’, just give this song an extra verse and it’s my choice for a single. The three guitar ‘frontline’ of TSC really help fill out the sound, after ten plus years the 5-piece appear to be breaking loose a little, bringing in a handful of unexpected instruments and with more complex song structures, there is some hard work behind the scenes of ‘Fire Works’.
The Sainte Catherines have released a not totally unexpected, but a surprise of an album, it’s not anarcho or hardcore; ‘Fire Works’ has too many influences. Overall this is punk albeit influenced by 1970’s rock and 1990’s Orange county punk. Good to hear a band in such great form.