It can be hard for a band to mature when its reputation is built on lo-fi garage punk that's more about thrash and sass than a delicately finessed sound. And yet, no one wants to make the same album again and again. The Catheters, a fierce and furious rock quartet from Seattle who earned their chops touring the UK with grunge originators Mudhoney, have found the perfect compromise on their third full-length release, produced by John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead). The sound is tough and swampy, as vocalist Brian Standeford unleashes bloodthirsty screams while Derek Mason wrings shape-shifting guitar hooks over Leo Gebhardt's thudding bass lines and Davey Brozowski's beats born for twisting and shaking. But even with all this sweat and swagger, they never sound like they're trying too hard. A loose, aggravated guitar gathers into a rollicking riff that winds around vocals with as much grit as Iggy Pop fronting the Stooges on "No Natural Law." And a deliberate grind of yowling vocals and scrawling guitar gives way to a flirty little guitar hook over a hip-shaking, locomotive beat on "Red Flags to White." Never more than it should be, but always skillfully brash, the Catheters testify to their garage-rock forebears with their own fresh burst of sonic swagger. The Catheters play the Middle East Upstairs on June 2.
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