Album Review: Civet – “Love and War”

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Civet have been together for a while now, according to their entry on Wikipedia they released the “Beauty Kills” EP way back in 2000. I first heard of the band in ’05. I was in a used record store, checking out the small punk section when I came across their album, “Massacre”. I was intrigued by the cover which featured the members of the band smeared with blood and laid out in what looked like a murder scene and by the fact that the album was released by Disaster Records, a label that had put out several comps (Old Scars and Upstarts Vol: 1 and 2) that I really liked. So I paid the five bucks or whatever it was that they were asking and took the disc home. I’d be lying if I said that I loved the album, it was short and I felt it was a bit juvenile but I saw promise in the band. A few years passed and I heard that Civet had signed with Hellcat Records (the home of some of my favorite bands) and to me that felt like a good place for the group.

For those of you who know nothing about Civet, they are a female fronted (up until this release they were all female) punk unit who sound a bit like The Runaways meets Motorhead. Some have said that vocalist Liza Graves, sounds like Brody Dalle of The Distillers and Spinerette. I don’t entirely agree with the Liza/Brody comparison, to me they have distinct voices. It’s like comparing Al Barr and Mike McColgan. Sure, there are similarities in their vocals but it’s not like you can’t tell them apart.

Anyway, in ’08, Civet released their Hellcat Records debut titled “Hell Hath No Fury” and I picked up a copy. It was a better album than “Massacre” but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. Still, it was good enough of an album to make me look forward to their next release. And now that album, titled “Love and War” is out and it is by far my favorite of the three that I’ve heard.

“Love and War” shows positive growth in all areas, song writing, musical ability and vocals. I will admit that Liza’s snarl sounds a bit too forced at times, but it’s not often enough to bring down the quality of this recording. This album sounds very cohesive, which is surprising to me given the bands recent turmoil with members quitting mid-tour. Their drummer and bassist left the band in November. That being said, these songs were either recorded pre break up, with members who were no longer happy to be in the band or in the few months since the rhythm sections departure, with a new band. Either way, I’m surprised at how good this album turned out.

I’m gonna take this space to highlight some of the tracks I enjoy the most.

“L.A. Nights” is probably my favorite song on this disc. This is how Civet sounds when everything falls into place. The song has attitude, the right amount of snarl in the vocals and a great sing along chorus.

“Come on (I wanna Be Your Girl)” is another good street punk track. It deals with a topic that I really can’t remember ever hearing another song tackle. It seems to be about a couple, both in touring bands who let the sex with groupies slide because they are in love and understand. Kinda like ‘what happens on the road stays on the road’ or perhaps I’m getting a completely different meaning from the song than was intended.

“It’s The Truth” has a haunting sound to it. It’s a slower track and Liza’s snarl is a bit less on this one. It’s a departure from what I expected on this album but it works very well.

“You Get What You Pay For” has an almost country feel to it, almost like a Social Distortion song as it would be sung by a woman, probably my second favorite on the disc.

Many of the other songs have great parts to them. “Cryin’ Wolf” has an interesting a cappella lead in, “Summer of Hate” has a cool swagger to the music and the music of “Reep What you Sow” has an old school punk feel to it and almost all of the choruses are just begging to be sung along with. Overall I’m very pleased with “Love and War” and after listening to it several times, I really want to go and see this band play live.

On a side note, I got to meet singer Liza Graves a few months back at a Street Dogs concert in Cleveland, Ohio. Civet didn’t play that night but I ended up standing with her and members of Flatfoot 56 through most of the Street Dogs set and I must say, I was surprised by how small of a woman she is. Now I’m even more impressed by the big tough voice that comes out of her.

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