Under Review

Richard Catwrangleur

Raise Ravens (Independent)

Review by Fraser Dobbs

Richard Catwrangleur has come a long way since his streamlined locomotive of a rock debut, House Of The Spirit-Wrestler!, a record so pure in its pursuits of lo-fi fun that you’d never guess it came out of Vancouver.

Raise Ravens, Catwrangleur’s first record released from his new home in Victoria, is a distinctly less rough-and-tumble album from his previous ventures, but retains the exact same stripped-down charm of its predecessors. Recorded and produced all by his lonesome, Catwrangleur’s Ravens feels very much like what it is—a record with a singular creative mind at its helm. It ditches the catchy, Sonics-inspired garage-rock for a much more contemplative approach steeped in ‘60s and ‘70s pop references.

The beautiful thing about Catwrangleur, and Ravens in particular, is the decidedly stark instrumentation brought about by home recording. No instrument, whether it’s calling up the Beach Boys, the Velvet Underground, or the Brian Jonestown Massacre, is out of place or overused, and the psych influences that have shaped Raise Ravens‘ most interesting songs—like opener “Crazy Ways” or the crazy, spaghetti western-tinged jam “Ukraiński”—are a welcome addition.

There is such a remarkable strength to Catwrangleur’s songwriting that it’s hard to imagine Raise Ravens ever being put into the context of a proper band. The weird slapbacks, tremolo vocals, and fuzzy guitar twang are all as much a signature of Catwrangleur as a person as his oddly endearing yowl. Fear the day when he gets a band together with nearly so much gumption as Raise Ravens yields.