Over the past year we’ve showcased a whole load of up-and-coming Scottish bands, and one of our favourites were Glasgow’s Kochka. Their name means ‘cat’ in Czech (they also have a song called ‘Black Cat’) and they play a self-proclaimed mix of ‘Electro-Cabaret-Bolshevik-Folk-Trotskyite-Soul-Klezmer-Rock-HappyBluesPop-Post Surf-Circus Dance-Tribal Screaming’. Whatever they say.
So, when the band offered us an exclusive listen to five newly recorded songs, due to be to part of an album released this year (sometime ‘on a whim’, they say), we couldn’t say no.
To the five tracks then, and we thought we would honour their feline heritage by giving each song a rating out of five, cat-style…
The Duke (Classy Drinks Don’t Stack)
This track opens with vocals and drums only, before launching head-first into a guitar riff reminiscent somewhat of a deadly swarm of bees. The bass-heavy verses lurch with speed like a tip-toeing giant after too many Red Bulls, punctuated by omnipresent bouncing drums, never lagging or taking a breather. There’s a Franz Ferdinand-esque break before diverting into a snaking run up the fretboard, cymbals a’smashing and guitar a’crashing.
Weird Cat says: “Not only simply devine, this is simple fe-line.”
‘Backpack’ has been a live favourite amongst Kochka fans for a little while, and it’s little wonder why. It’s all about the waltz, swaying effortlessly with assured songwriting, and with bellowing backing vocals, this seems like a flagship Kochka track. Crisp, clever and catchy.
Weird Cat says: “I could dance the night away to this until my paws go purr-ple.”
This track is only 52 seconds long and pirouettes on a gruff guitar riff which creeps up and down a scale a bit like a man who ascended a ladder before having to come down again after the silly oaf realised he left the paint tin at the bottom. Repeatedly. ‘Mine’s got no head, it’s got no head, it’s got no head’ sings vocalist Markk Donnelly in what is the only lyrics of the song. What? Us neither. The potential here deserves for this song to be a little more padded out, however.
Weird Cat says: “Short but ‘tweet’, just like my lunch.”
The intro to this song is probably the most hip-grinding thing The Daily Dose has heard all year, so we’re thankful that the rudimentary-but-oh-so-sweet bass line gleefully continues into the verse and beyond. It’s all doused in vocal effects and plinky guitar which manages to not sound superfluous, but entirely at home. Eastern European sounding gang vocals lead into a twisted version of the classic circus theme (namechecked in the song’s title), and with odd laughing in the background, it’s not best advised for a bedtime listen. Nevertheless, ‘Fucic’s Carousel’ is an extremely strong tune aided by layers of great effects and add-ons.
Weird Cat says: “A near purr-fect piece of gypsy-rock.”
We’re not sure if Kochka actually know someone called ‘Marlena’, but the name, backed up by wavering, lamenting vocals, provokes images of a young women called Marlena running about an Italian olive garden. Or something. Which ain’t too bad, we suppose. With tom-heavy drums the base for some tasty chord progressions, the first half of this song is killer stuff, before thrashing out a bit in the middle with instrumental gusto. The vocals perhaps could benefit from deviating occasionally from the high-register they often find themselves in, but ‘Marlena’ is just another reminder that there isn’t quite anyone else in Scotland who sound like Kochka – and that most certainly is a darn good thing. From what we’ve heard of their new material, an already great band are about to become even greater.
Weird Cat says: “‘Marlena’? More like ‘Meow-lena’.”
Kochka play the Admiral Bar in Glasgow on 13 March as part of a Marie Curie Cancer Care charity gig. Get yer pennies out for a good cause.