Tomcat Combat
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Tomcat Combat

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | INDIE

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock

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I'm not going to lie, Tomcat Combat's debut full-length I'm Okay, You're Okay wasn't the easiest thing for me to review (then again, if we're really being honest, considering I'm the hill's "rap guy", I'm always surprised when I come up with anything coherent about songs that don't have 16 bars and the boom or bap). The fact is, we just don't get a lot of instrumental, or post-rock records submitted for review. Luckily, this one happens to be very enjoyable.

I'm Okay, You're Okay has actually been out for a few weeks now, and although I'm a fan of the album, it has taken me a while to post on it because I wasn't sure how to tackle it. Essentially I figured I might as well tackle it in terms of its listenability. And right from the get-go, this Halifax five-piece grabs your attention and holds on tight. The excellent Pacer's Club opens the album at a brisk, ahem, pace, while Action Doer takes things up a notch further. These two songs alone showcase the bands' cohesion as a unit, as the guitars play well off each other, the drums are equally comfortable in the back keeping time or jumping out and taking the lead, and the moog-esgue keys are always there filling in the spaces.

There is really a minimal amount of individual noodlery, which one (or just me) might expect from a band in this space, but I think the album is better for it. The songs are not just straight ahead jam sessions either, the band manages to mix things up quite well throughout: I Might Have To Go Away For A While starts with only some spacey jingle bells before erupting into a breakneck rocker, the brief I've Seen Death has a much more electronic sound with very little guitar work, and there are also some vast, quieter moments to be found on songs like Mountains And Planes, Clock Worker's Union, and Middle States And Mental Giants.

So perhaps the best compliment I can pay this album is just how listenable it actually is. The arrangements aren't simple, but the songs are still very accessible for someone like me who knows pretty much nada about the post-rock. In fact this album has joined The Extremities as a solid rotation staple in my array of work-accompanying music. If you're into instrumental bands at all, Tomcat Combat is a must listen I would say, but even if you aren't I'd advise checking them out as they have a pretty solid album on their hands here.
- Herohill


It is with great honour that I present to you all Tomcat Combat, an awesome post-rock band that happens to be from our native Canada (more specifically Halifax, NS). Tomcat Combat formed in 2005, and I’m Okay, You’re Okay marks their debut album, to be released July 1st of this year.

This album is friggin’ solid! Tomcat Combat fuses post-rock with a more punk, electronic pop rock feel. You can tell there is definite focus on dynamic rhythms and timbre—the instrumentation seems to be very well-thought out. According to press, they are similar to that of Mogwai, Slint, and Explosions in the Sky, but personally I find that a little debatable. The album starts off with “Pacer’s Club,” which I consider one of the best tracks on the album due to the band’s ability to master rhythmic shifts. If you listen really carefully, you can hear hints of intricately planned instrumentation. Tomcat Combat can surely define the subtlety of synth mixing. I’m not sure how I could possibly explain it more; just scroll down a bit and play it. Tomcat Combat are masterminds of dynamic rhythms. ‘Nuff said.

Songs like “I’ve Seen Death” and “New City Blocks” give a cool Royksopp feel, like we’re listening to a soundtrack of a classic Sega Genesis video game (I feel like I’ve made this comparison before). “Mountains and Planes,” the album’s longest track at 9 minutes and 52 seconds is probably the epitome of what I really sense when I listen to Tomcat Combat. It starts of slow and mellow, with simple melody of a guitar, and the subtle synth mixes. The transitioning of instrumentation is just beautiful. I was definitely in awe when I first listened to this song. It could be really easy to just overlook the ingenuity of this one track. About four and a half minutes in, there is an entirely new rhythmic shift—not so much abruptly as to make it sound awkward—just the right fade out and introduction to let you know it’s a new act of the same play (for lack of a better metaphor).

And that’s what I feel could be said for the album in its entirety. Tomcat Combat definitely use rhythm to their advantage. There’s nothing boring or familiar about it for one to sigh out sarcastically, “Oh yeah. That definitely hasn’t been done before.” It’s fresh, it’s energetic, it’s as quirky as the band name!

I’m Okay, You’re Okay will be, without doubt, one of my favourite post-rock albums of 2008 (and not just because they’re Canadian). The music is familiar enough to be pocketed into the “post-rock” genre, but enough to not be classified under generic and conventional.

If you wish to pre-order the album (which I highly recommend that you do), click here to buy from the label. You won’t be able to find it through Amazon, CD Universe, or Insound–for now, anyway. - Allan’s World of Music


As a music reviewer, you are supposed to be able to review any type of music in any genre. By far the toughest genre to review for me is instrumental bands like Tomcat Combat.
Tomcat Combat plays instrumental post-punk that reminds me of bands like Cancer Conspiracy or Russian Circles. On their debut album I'm Okay You're Okay, Tomcat Combat mixes tricky guitar work with atmospheric keyboards and steady driving drums to create an extremely listenable instrumental album.
Like all instrumental acts, self-indulgence is a big part of what makes each band unique. It's no fun to listen to an instrumental without some sort of theme and variation. My only complaint with Tomcat Combat is sometimes they are not indulgent enough. The three tracks on the album under four minutes feel like they are not nearly long enough and that the band needs to give these tracks room to breath.
Besides that one minor complaint, I find this to be a very successful debut full length from a talent group of guys. They are certainly a band I will be watching in the future. - Surviving the Golden Age


The third and final opening act was Tomcat Combat, a local “post-punk” purely instrumental indie band that managed to create a totally overwhelming and all-encompassing musical experience with the aid of the surround sound set-up, evoking all sorts of emotions and thoughts from their transformative and seemingly unstoppable musical style. Like the two previous bands the intricate and tactful drumming was the driving force behind their colossal sound, while the unorthodox use of the synthesizer added a powerful and psychedelic layer to the depth of their sound. - Adam Miller for InfoMonkey.net


Warming up for their upcoming studio stint with Charles Austin at Echo Chamber, Tomcat Combat are pleased to entertain you at The Attic this Friday, December 21 (with Jon McKiel Band and Boy For Sale). "Early January we are in the studio with Charles Austin and we've never been in a studio before. Thankfully, we've recently hired Brad Lahead (The Got to Get Got). He has studio experience and he's worked with Charles before at the Echo Chamber," says Noel Macdonald, guitar. Macdonald, along with Alex Mitchell (moog), Brad Lahead (guitar), Dan Nightengale (bass) and Gary Staple (drums), make up the band. "I've always felt that the point of our music is to take simple chords and riffs and try muster up as much power behind them as possible. This is why we decided to be an instrumental band right from day one. We don't want anything to get in the way of the overwhelming power that can be made with guitars, drums and synthesizers. To me, that's the most exciting thing that our band can try do for an audience," says Macdonald. "We try and bypass people's hang-ups and come out with both guns blazing and hopefully people will forget about the fact that no one is singing. It has always turned us on to know that people are interested or excited about our music." Those interested and excited will be happy to get their hands on the new record, due out in March. "We know what we can create live, but that has yet to be told on any recording of ours," says Macdonald.

-Stephanie Johns - The Coast


Discography

Tomcat Combat "I'm Okay You're Okay" - 2008 Noyes Records
Tomcat Combat Self Titled EP - 2006 Noyes Records

Photos

Bio

Pitting a bedrock of echoing guitars
against an enormous rhythm section
and bleeding synth melodies, Tomcat
Combat deliver blinding instrumental
post punk anthems. Each track pushes
and pulls syncopated rhythms through
a dense wall of guitars and keyboards,
all racing beyond the standard musical climax. This combination of
adrenaline and tight musicianship has earned the band a reputation
for having one of the most exciting live shows in Halifax, earning
them the chance to share the stage with bands like Holy Fuck, Jay Reatard, Don Caballero,
and Mt. Eerie.
Tomcat Combat formed in the Fall of 2005 when drummer Gary
Staple and guitarists Noel MacDonald & Chris Purchase recruited
bassist Dan Nightingale and keyboardist Alex Mitchell and began to
rehearsing what would become the material for the group's debut
self-titled EP.
After a string of successful shows, and with the addition of guitarist,
Brad Lahead, the band began work on their I'm Okay, You're Okay.
Recorded with Charles Austin at Echo Chamber and mixed by Graeme
Campbell, the album avoids spearheading itself into a series of
instrumental builds, instead opting for startling dynamic shifts
developed through meticulously constructed instrumental attacks.
"Clock Worker's Union" embodies this approach with a nightmarish
soundscape quickly shifting into a grinding guitar onslaught. "Pacer's
Club" unfolds in much the same manner, as pounding rhythms guide
the band through razor sharp twists and turns.
The album went on to win the 2008 Music Nova Scotia Award for Loud Artist/Group Recording of the Year.