Catfish Haven: Please Come Back

By Aaron Stein

There are very few reasons to like Catfish Haven's debut EP Please Come Back. The songs are monotonous, two-chord belches, and despite being loud, rocking power trio music, there is no lead guitar or rockin’ solos to be found. And yet, I have a very difficult time not enjoying the heck out of it. This is not thinking-man’s music, to say the least, but there’s always room for some simplified, well-executed rock and roll to pop in the player, crank up the volume, and just not think for a half hour or so.

Catfish Haven is led by George Hunter, who, as press releases and reviews will certainly note, grew up in a trailer park with the name Catfish Haven. This is really Hunter’s baby - the lead instrument is his charisma alone. You can feel that energy in his voice – a scratchy, distorted howl - and in the way he confidently strums those two chords, leading a three-man rhythm section head-first into each song. It’s true, the songs don’t really do anything at all. The lyrical phrases are short and repetitive to a remarkable degree. The song “You Can Have Me” must repeat the phrase “you can have me” 50 times, and “Crying Shame” isn’t much better with its title lyric. There are really no changes to speak of for most of the 6 tracks, and yet, this music oozes with a dynamic energy.

The real reason to get excited about Catfish Haven might not be Please Come Back itself but the promise that this could be just the beginning, the toe in the water before the big splash. “Madelin” hints at some depth, with some unique drumming and an actual change-up or two thrown in there. “Still Hungover” is hands-down best in show, and there’s no mistaking the fact that the addition of a guest guitarist and sax player do the trick. The two stand-ins take the song to a triumphant coda and prove that maybe all this band needs is a second guitarist to take the already-driving songs to the next level. A little guitar soloing never hurt anyone, and it certainly isn’t going to hurt Catfish Haven. Keep your eye on these guys.

JamBase | New York City
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[Published on: 2/16/06]

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