Burn The Map was written and recorded in Vancouver, Washington, though Catfish & Sons cites Portland, Oregon on their Bandcamp page. It is just a stone’s skip over the Hood River.
The first track “Cold Mountain Air” starts out in the realms of psychedelia. The intro is reminiscent of Yessongs-era Steve Howe-guitar played over a drum-beat that, if anything, makes you think of Native-American rhythm. Listening to it makes you want to catch them live to see what they do with this sequence: it seems perfectly ripe to be turned into a longer riff and re-riff jam. The combination is quite enjoyable even in the short snippet that the band gives us - at about 35 seconds in, though it’s time to end the reverie and everything turns into blues-rock. What we get here is a driving beat and bass line with bluesy guitar and Daniel Hendricks’ Steven-Tyleresque vocal. The lyric, itself, is about a femme-fatale: “She’s got a stare like the cold mountain air.”
“Hallways” begins with and is throughout strongly flavored by Henry Thompson’s bluesy keyboards. (Think Doctor John and his progenitor, Ray Charles.) Thompson’s vocal runs a little closer to Clapton here, though, with all respect to the Slow-Hand, the Catfish & Sons singer’s voice is a little more masculine: huskier.
If you’re noticing that all the references are to the ’70s and even earlier, that is not a mistake. Everything about the EP, right from the cover art to the time-change-y guitar picking hearkens back to the era of Hippies over Hipsters. If ‘68 to ‘75-or-so bluesy classic-rock is your jam, Catfish & Sons has a lot to offer you. If you also happen to like psychedelic and progressive, then you may as well say goodbye to your current lover and just move in with these guys. They’re everything you ever wanted and more.
The most enjoyable track is the third. “Seven” just seems to be the freshest take on what this band is about. In three-and-a-half-minutes, they give you everything that you might have to listen to an entire evening of classic-rock-radio to get. It starts out sounding like The Allman Brothers, turns into mellow-phase Aerosmith crossed with Nazareth, hits a little ELP and then shape-shifts back to something like southern rock again. It’s a whirlwind tour of your uncle’s record collection and it doesn’t drag on or include uncomfortable stories about all the laws he broke back before strict drunk-driving laws….It’s on the third cut, also, that Andy Hokanson’s drums, Jordan Sjothun’s bass and Joel Barker’s lead-guitars shine the most. All three are quite good and don't seem to take a moment off throughout the four songs, but here they are especially busy.
“Tango” finishes up the proceedings in a slightly trippier, more psych-rock manner than the first three songs, but that is only by measures of degree. Catfish & Sons has a recognizable tool-box and you sense their musical identity on each track regardless of which exact wrenches or pry-bars are in hand at any specific moment working their way through any specific musical task.
You only “burn the map” (reminder: EP-title) in a couple situations: one is if you are wandering aimlessly, don’t care where you end up and just want to keep moving. Another is if you know the way so well that the map is no longer useful.
I think both ways of looking at it describe where Catfish & Sons will take you
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