Home Read Albums Of The Week: Beans | Boots N Cats

Albums Of The Week: Beans | Boots N Cats

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Serving up 11 tracks of rhythmic garage-psych goodness, Boots N Cats is the third full-length from Melbourne outfit Beans and the first of two albums set for 2024. The long-awaited followup to 2018’s Babble and 2020’s All Together Now, it finds Beans frontman (and Murlocs drummer) Matt Blach putting percussion at centre stage. “I’ve always wanted to make a drum-based album, dedicated around the beat first and then everything else follows,” he says, explaining his desire to explore “different production approaches, like hip-hop and crunched drums, and show an admiration and appreciation for the likes of The Meters, Wu-Tang and James Brown.

What emerges from the beat-first approach on Boots N Cats charts mutant garage-rock boogies (Groove, Silhouette) and festival-tent psychedelia (Haunted, Dreaming Daisy), by way of blissed-out funk instrumentals (One To Four, Siamese Blundstone). The line is constantly skirted between a loose, carefree vibe and interesting, meticulous musicianship — never falling into the trap of taking itself too seriously. It’s a sunny kaleidoscope of chugging guitars, driving bass-lines, soaring organs and warm, echo-soaked vocals — driven always by the tightly-wound rhythms and grooves that Blach has been in pursuit of since he was a kid: “The title of the album comes from me learning drums from my dad. He had a background of German heritage and during lessons would jokingly say ‘nein, boot’n’cats’n’ like a simple 1,2,3,4.”

The songs themselves, Blach says, are “mostly based on a state of mind or place of consciousness, intended to be open to the audience’s own interpretation as well as for my own self-release.” Hence, “life’s ups and downs” are placed under the microscope on tracks like the aptly titled opener Groove (based on not wanting to let loose/be yourself and dance in a crowd) and lead single Haunted (about that near-universal sense of being ‘Haunted by the fear of failure’).

Dreaming Daisy is a song for the devil on your shoulder, tackling addiction/alcoholism and “people wanting to live their life to prove right to others rather than themselves.” Calling takes on the paranoia of the times they were made in. It’s a suitably wonky soundtrack to “that period of Covid time where everyone, including myself, felt like they were going insane. When people were being really sensitive and reactive, calling people out over pure boredom — obviously sometimes worthy, sometimes far-fetched.”

Beyond its drum focus, Boots N Cats also marks another first for Beans, in that it was entirely written and recorded by Blach. Setting up a DIY studio in the garage of his Melbourne home over the pandemic, Blach began working on the record in lieu of the full band (Jack Kong, Lachlan McKiernan, Vincent Clemenston and Mitch Rice) he’d been jamming and tearing up Melbourne stages with under a number of different monikers since they were all 16.

“We didn’t get to see each other as a band AT ALL”, Blach recalls of that time: “This is why the album came to fruition as it kept me sane and feeling productive to still be writing/recording and achieving something. Having this opportunity and time and space really got my tires turning so I basically recorded every part and engineered the entire thing myself. Not that we wanted it to be this way, but we couldn’t collaborate together during this time so it was a case of adapting.”

Making the most of the enforced isolation to venture down new creative roads, Blach came out the other side of the pandemic with two new Beans records in the bag (“Just you wait for the next one, we will go much more folky and chill on lockdown session 2.”). Mixed and mastered by John Lee (“a master from Melbourne who actually became a true friend”), those recordings are now ready to start seeing the light of day.”