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Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun

The whole ethos behind Kickstart The Sun is to “‘turn the lights back on’ and bring some positivity and joyousness…” and if any band was perfect for that job, it’s Cats In Space. Kickstart… is the band’s fifth studio album and their second with the vocal find of the century, Damien Edwards, who if anything, is even more imperious behind the mic now that his feet are firmly under the table.

If you’re new to the Cats, well firstly, come on, you’ve missed some stupidly good music already, and secondly, welcome to simply the best band that have emerged over the last ten (maybe twenty?) years. The recipe should be simple, but oh so many acts who have tried to follow it have served up a main meal that’s nowhere near as tasty as what you’ll sit down to here - take the best, most fun, most intriguing, most nuanced sounds from the seventies rock, pop, prog and pomp worlds and fold them expertly into songs that are bold, brash, memorable and utterly revitalising.

The band’s songwriters in chief are guitarist/producer Greg Hart drummer Steevi Bacon and singer Damien Edwards, with the trio seemingly having a never ending supply of hook laden choruses, stinging guitar melodies and clever little asides that are all brought together to form albums with real depth and the ability to hit hard right from the off, while only becoming ever more exciting the longer you spend with them. It helps of course that the rest of the band, Dean Howard (guitars), Jeff Brown (bass/vocals) and Andy Stewart (keys) are right at the top of their game as they mesh perfectly on each and every track, and hence, with another set of cracking songs and a stunning vocalist, what could possibly go wrong…?

Well, put quite simply, absolutely bloody well nothing! Kickstart The Sun may just have knocked Scarecrow off my own personal top spot of Cats In Space albums - and with that little beauty already being handed a 5 star review by yours truly here on SoT, we all know where this is heading. However, it’s important to understand why, because if the songs weren’t brilliant, the pacing and sequencing not absolutely perfect and the overall effect unquestionably uplifting, then a perfect score wouldn’t even be under consideration. But right from the layered vocals of the album’s short opening title-track, it’s impossible not to be bowled over by what you encounter. “King Of Stars” is big and bold - deep horn blasts heralding in a song that has the confidence to play staccato stabs of piano off striking power-chords and a driving but groove laden beat. “Poke The Witch”, which was a preview single announcing the album’s imminent arrival, somehow raises the groove stakes even higher, Edwards illustrating his rich syrupy tones but also how he can turn on a sixpence and show an imperious dominance with his vocal display.

There are fifteen songs in total, so for your own sanity, I’m not going to describe them all, but “Teenage Millionaire” hits hard in all the right ways as vocal harmonies are embellished by tumbling beats, a blazing guitar solo and hooks so sharp they’ll slice you in two at the merest glance. Starting off as an almost Styx/DeYoung like ballad, “Goodbye American Dream” suddenly bursts proud and bright into a confident strut that earns every bit of the self assured confidence it thrives on. Whereas “1,000,000 Miles” is happy and able to remain in tear jerking ballad territory without ever slipping into self indulgence. “Smoke And Mirrors” then takes an ELO meets City Boy base and wraps you right round its little finger, glorious gang-vocals the perfect off set for a deceptively laid back intention - oh and the guitar line that runs through it all is utterly killer. And those are flavours explored further on “Last Dance Saloon”, which is possibly the most blatantly string-laden ELO this band have ever sounded - glorious! While the eight minute-plus “Bootleg Bandoleros” scoops up handfuls of Styx, Magnum and more to become a pomp-prog masterpiece that’s still a sing along to end all sing alongs!

And there’s more! But you’re getting the picture. At the risk of repeating myself, Cats In Space are, for my money, the best band to emerge since the turn of the millennium. That’s not a claim I’d ever make lightly, but especially not now, seeing as that period of time encompasses an immense 22 years.

With Kickstart The Sun, which once again comes wrapped in a simply stunning sleeve, courtesy of the ever-impressive Andy Kitson, Cats In Space have outdone themselves.

Track Listing

1. Kickstart The Sun - Intro
2. King Of Stars
3. Poke The Witch
4. Teenage Millionaires
5. Goodbye To The American Dream
6. 1,000,000 Miles
7. Fifty-One Pillow Bed
8. Charlie’s Ego
9. Kickstart The Sun
10. A Big Balloon
11. Smoke & Mirrors
12. Hero
13. Last Dance Saloon
14. Bootleg Bandoleros
15. Kickstart The Sun - reprise

Added: August 15th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Cats In Space webstore
Hits: 3345
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Eric Porter, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-08-21 00:45:24
My Score:

Cats In Space have captured a retro AOR sound with Catchy melodies, big choruses, lush production, topped off with an excellent lead singer.

Seems like the perfect combination, and in some ways it is, but something is holding me back. There are obvious influences
from 70s bands like Queen, Sweet, and Boston (among others), so fans of classic rock should be eating this up.
I will admit that upon hearing "Poke The Witch", the melody immediately gets implanted in my brain. Could this be like a sugar rush,
where you get the immediate effect, but it wears off quickly? Where this band may struggle is getting fans of
classic rock to pull "Kickstart The Sun" off the shelf rather than reach for those familiar albums that have been played
over and over. "Teenage Millionaires" has the same instant impact, the songs and music are well written, but it
also feels a bit contrived. The album is a bit long, and I would like to hear these guys rock a little harder, but,
they are very good at what they do to be sure.

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-08-15 14:59:17
My Score:

Boy, are Cats in Space on some sort of a roll...with Kickstart the Sun, the band have now also proved that they can crank out a double album of irresistible classic rock, not one weak track in the bunch, and match all that up with their incredibly high standards in packaging and artwork. The songs? Well, for starters, be on the lookout for "King of Stars", "Teenage Millionaires", "Goodbye to the American Dream", "Fifty-One Pillow Bed", "Bootleg Bandoleros", "Charlie's Egos", "Poke the Witch", and the energetic title track as some of your best places to start here, but I don't want to downplay the rest of the album, which is also stellar. Tremendous vocals, big guitars, big keyboards, hooks aplenty, and an attitude that just screams 'classic rock ain't just for old guys'!

In short, one of the most fun albums released so far in 2022. Get your copy ASAP and join in on the festivities.

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-08-01 13:04:34
My Score:

Dear SoT Reader

Like me you probably don't get down with mainstream music on a particularly regular basis. I couldn't tell you very much about Adele, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles etc other than what I have heard is a bit crap. That said, dear reader, I bet imagine that, like me, you struggle to believe that the music you do like isn't much, much more popular. Cats in Space are very much a case in point.

Given that, as my esteemed Scottish friend says above, that at times one can hear ELO, Styx, and Queen, oh yes, definitely Queen in the guitars, it is quite perplexing that the Cats aren't at the top of the charts or even in them at all. On the day of release for Kickstart The Sun Queen are actually still in the UK top ten album chart alongside the masters of melody, ABBA which shows that the appetite for 'proper' music with hooks, choruses and songs which mean stuff is still there. It could be that Jamie T who is number one encapsulates all those qualities but I've never even heard of him even though I've just typed his name.

It's also noticeable that heritage acts are absolutely huge business at the moment and there's no doubt that with even a scintilla of proper exposure (and by that I mean more than one play on BBC Radio Two by Johnnie Walker) Cats in Space could and should be huge. They can sing, they can play, the production is brilliant. What's not to love?

I wholeheartedly concur with Steven Reid that everything about Kickstart The Sun is top class especially vocalist Damien Edwards who has really grown into the frontman role on this, his second proper studio album with the band. There's so much that can be said about both the band and the album - the guitars are sublime throughout - the harmonies are to die for- Andy Stewart's keys are a delight at all times - King of Stars has a little horn motif which is like Pride of Lions' Tall Ships but the most important thing to say is that this is an absolute instant classic from a band which is actually getting better as time moves on.

» Reader Comments:

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Frank S. Castro on 2022-08-17 17:20:11
My Score:

Spot-on description of the newest Cats in Space album. Not sure what an Ed Sheeran is, Simon, but I definitely get the message: They are one of THE bands of the moment. It means a lot when most of the SoT experts mention half of the songs of an album among their favorites (the same thing happened to me). I also have the intrinsic need of praising Andy Kitson's stunning artwork for the album cover.

My favorite albums of 2022 are mostly metal oriented but this will definitely take place as one of the BEST of this year. Apropos, I'm curious to see how you rank this when you have your end of year discussion.

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Kenny Craig on 2022-08-07 08:40:00
My Score:

Great review Steven for a great band and album. C'mon the rest of you, jump on the Cats In Space bandwagon and enjoy some classic rock.

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Malcolm Smith on 2022-07-30 09:06:42
My Score:

The fifth studio album from Cats In Space has duly landed and you know what... it's probably the best thing they've done to date which in itself is some feat as all of their albums are top quality releases.

The band have throughout their recording career laid their influences bare, such as Queen, ELO, 10cc and Styx... even my particular favourite band New England are among their sonic touchstones.

Now that's no criticism as the band have taken these influences and honed them into something that is most definitely and uniquely "𝘊𝘢𝘵𝘴"....and I 'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this, but without question if this album were to be released in the 70's these guys would be on their way to stardom in the blink of an eye, but unfortunately we live in very different times.

As such this album will only be heard by the melodic rock community at large, unless of course mainstream radio and TV do a spectacular U-turn and embrace the talents of these guys, rather than fawn all over the latest insipid boy band or reality show winner whose shelf life is getting increasingly shorter, but saying all that with subsequent releases the bands profile is certainly getting much greater attention...thank goodness!!

So, the Music? Well this album is a belter from start to finish with barely a dip in quality throughout. It is unabashed in its pride (at times) to wear its tank-top, flares and platforms.

Its song writing values also hark back to the halcyon days of the 70's, with clever, inspired arrangements and harmonies and yet still finding space to get in some nice crunchy guitar playing interlaced with some tasteful keyboard flourishes.

This time around though their sound has been further bolstered by the tasteful use of Brass instrumentation, which gives the album a slightly different feel to their previous releases. It really would be churlish for me to single out any track for individual praise, as EVERYTHING on show here is prime time melodic goodness.

Suffice to say that Cats In Space have put they own individual mark on these songs and delivered a melodic rock album very much for today, full of diversity, high energy performances and production values befitting of the decade the band love so much.

Even its running length of just over an hour (something which I personally think is too long for an album these days) doesn't even grind my gears, as it’s all been so perfectly and lovingly put together.

Greg Hart and his fellow cats have, with “Kickstart The Sun” made this an essential purchase for any self-respecting rock fan (melodic, or otherwise) and they would do well to get their hands (I hesitate to say paws) on this platter pretty sharpish.

Cats In Space: Kickstart The Sun
Posted by Andy Kitson on 2022-07-23 12:21:27
My Score:

Thankyou Steven for a wonderful review and many thanks for the mention. It is indeed a masterpiece which I've had the privilege of being able listen to a copy since Christmas, it has not worn off yet. Anyway...on to the next one! Regards Andy

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