William Benton is a man of many talents, least of which is the ability to appear in my dream last night as a musician tapped to guest on the upcoming Kurt Vile record. What that dream speaks to (other than my love of Kurt Vile) is just how prolific and sought after Benton is as a musician. Well, it was that or the far less romantic notion that dreams are populated by the days events, and I had, after all, just spoken with him about this series of recordings. But let’s keep things supernatural, which as I understand it is far more appealing.
Benton has an impressive musical resume having played with Bodyhammer, Lucky Pineapple, Phantom Family Halo, and Shilpa Ray to name a few. That experience has culminated with Cat Casual, his solo moniker backed here by the Holy Midnight, a who’s who of local talent. The songs featured here are Ladyfingers, a carry over from Tyrone, Mock American, Black Sun, and Carved. Why these were released as a series of singles on Bandcamp rather than a cohesive EP is beyond me, but the material found herein is solid and perhaps some of the best work of his career. His guitar work here shows a restraint and class previously unheard in his music. This isn’t meant as a back-handed compliment at all, but rather an observation that my previous experiences were that his playing was somewhat busier in the past. It’s that or our tastes have grown closer over the years.
There is an undeniable The Birthday Party/early-Nick Cave quality to the music here, made all the more apparent by the heavy bass work, the plodding drum lines, and the scattered piano and guitar work throughout. Of course, Benton plays hard into the more baroque qualities of his voice and it really works here. I wasn’t especially familiar with the work of Tyrone, but Ladyfingers is a haunting number that employs similar almost funk or neo-soul kind of tropes through the filter of indie influence. Both Black Sun and Carved offer the most Mutiny and the Bad Seeds/From Her To Eternity era Cave sound possible, making this iteration of Cat Casual contemporary to bands like Timbre Timbre. Mock American is by far the most upbeat number, clocking in with the shortest song time and a dynamic sense of exploration that somehow blends bands like Magma with garage rock. It’s pretty rad.
You can listen to the bunch below and sign off in the comments section on which track is the coolest. We’re not saying you should get into a knife fight to determine which is the best, or that there even needs to be a superlative ranking of such, but if you do, tell us about it.