Whilst every band collectively had their teeth kicked in by the inability to tour with the exception of Smashmouth (they really weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, were they?), not many got it worse than Haggard Cat. Releasing their second album, Common Sense Holiday, in March 2020 with a tour in the same month when everyone was told not to cross their thresholds is about as unfortunate as it gets. Maybe Alanis Morissette can update the lyrics for “Ironic” to include them.
Regardless, Haggard Cat have bookended the past eighteen months with their new EP, Cheer Up. As snarkily titled as the last album, not only does this serve as a rebirth of sorts for the bluesy noise rockers but it finally captures the intensity of the duo’s live performance which the two albums frankly haven’t. There’s a strange yet wonderful dichotomy on Cheer Up. While they sound rawer and more feral than ever (and every other vicious adjective you can think of), their inimitable wall of sound is cleaner and would make for a palatable entry point for those uninitiated in this filthier spectrum of rock.
As they channel the likes of Metz and God Damn, fuzzed-out bluesy guitars snarl and bite as drums punch back in retaliation. Throughout the EP, blues licks combine with punky power chords and forced through the filter of noise rock to show the breadth of their influences. The band direct their ire to the machine of the music industry in lead single, “Quit Your Jobs” and “Fucking TV”. The latter holds a level of urgency which would induce anxiety to even the most laidback person, battering along at a breakneck speed whilst throwing a number of demands in your face. Meanwhile, the former is the perfect representative of Haggard Cat – lyrically and sonically caustic, the unhidden sneer in the vocals smashes into the drum work of Tom Marsh with the viciousness of a grudge-fuelled fight a decade in the making.
Anger turns into unbridled fury on closing song “Cow” as they take aim at the injustice and divide and conquer tactics of governments as well as the noise of social media and various companies harvesting and mining your data. In fact, all you’d need to do is throw in some equally loud bass and Matt Reynolds’ jagged, shrieking vocals develop into a Jack Daniel’s-soaked rasp and you’d have a perfect Motörhead song.
For a band who wear their credentials on their sleeves, their timely return is a welcome one as they shoulder their way back to their DIY roots with a vengeance. Between the unhidden catharsis laden into all five tracks on the EP and turning everything up to the proverbial eleven, this is Haggard Cat in their true form that they haven’t quite hidden but now takes centre stage. It’s their best release to date, more potent and engaging than ever as it balances raw and pristine elements together with razor sharp precision.
UK tour dates (tickets available here):
- September 7th – Nottingham, Bodega
- September 8th – London, The Grace
- September 9th – Stoke, Underground
- September 11th – Manchester, Satan’s Hollow
- September 12th – Huddersfield, The Parish
- September 13th – Glasgow, The Garage Attic
- September 14th – Newcastle, Surf Café
- September 15th – Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms
- September 16th – Birmingham, Dead Wax
- September 18th – Bristol, Crofter’s Rights
- September 19th – Brighton, Prince Albert
- September 20th – Guildford, Boileroom
- September 21st – Bournemouth, Anvil
- September 23rd – Newquay, Whiskers
- September 24th – Plymouth, The Junction
- September 25th – Exeter, the Cavern
- September 26th – Swansea, Bunkhouse
- September 27th – Sheffield, Record Junkee
Header image by Carla Mundy
Cheer Up is out now