First of all, I just want to make something clear: I do not know what is the typical music of Norway. I have never been there and a popular comic book once said a joke that nobody talks about Norway because it’s too peaceful to be in the news. Mind you, musical genres don’t have the trouble of visas and airfares, they just travel through the waves and infect people.
Somehow, a lot of genres got into Katzenjammer: a vivacious combination of folk, country, sea shanties and the odd traditional song (in the sense of oral history music) that veers, minuets and slowly dances the night away (in ruby slippers, of course!). The finished product is A kiss before you go, Jaunty Balkan music from this Norwegian foursome.
You only need to wait about a minute or so (after the quick introduction of ‘A kiss before you go’) before the party starts. ‘I will dance (when I walk away)’ is the happy-go-stomping corker and ‘Cherry pie’ is so damn sweet, it feels like a long hug. Heck you will dance again soon with the “long night of shenanigans” song ‘Cocktails and ruby slippers’ and then bogey down the highway with ‘Loathsome M’ & ‘Shepherd’s song’ (and escape the fuzz with ‘Gypsy flee’!).
There’s a quite interesting (as in, interestingly enjoyable!) cover of ‘Land of Confusion’, originally by Genesis, previously covered by Disturbed. It’s a pretty fantastic cover, invigorating the song and finding some quirky humour in the rather gloomy lyrics. Wonder if we’ll get another Spitting Image video?
The country / Americana combination means that there will be some very stark moments in the album. ‘Lady Marlene’ is one of those and ‘Soviet trumpeteer’ has that dissonance vibe that unsettles. ‘God’s great dust storm’ is as apocalyptic as the title describes (we were warned) and even a happy song like ‘Rock, paper, scissors’ has a hint of sadness. Not that the rhythm would make you feel it, though, so sway and dance by yourself.
A kiss before you go is utterly mesmerising. The fact that Katzenjammer is so energetic on recording makes me wonder what sort of barnstorming squaredancing shenanigans happen when they play live!
PS: That funky, gigantic bass that looks like a giant Dorito is called a contrabass balalaika. Sounds awesome.
Words: Samuel J. Valdés López