Band Aid: The Sainte Catherines

I’ve been harping on about Montreal, Quebec’s the Sainte Catherines to anyone who’ll listen for about four years now, ever since they blew me away at a tiny gig at the Brighton Hobgoblin with J Church – who I found disappointingly underwhelming, and more’s the pity punk rock legend and J Church voxman Lance Hahn passed away last October, so now I’ll never get a chance to revise that opinion. But I digress… the Sainte Catherines were astonishing, playing every song with infectious intensity and concluding their set with a cover of ‘Where Eagles Dare’ that turned the entire room into a pit (being a sissy boy, I sang along and dodged the sweaty powerhouse that is singer Hugo as he shoved moshers this way and that).

This, I think, was sometime in 2004, the year after they’d toured in support of their 2003 album The Art of Arrogance (Dare to Care Records). This was an oddity, a record full of passion and violence and anger, but also restrained and at times demonstrating a sensitive and deliberate approach to songwriting. It was very much a grower, and to this day ‘D Is The Key To Open Heart Surgery’ remains one of my favourite songs (and song titles).

Since then they’ve released a follow-up on Fat Wreck, 2006’s Dancing For Decadence, which despite demonstrating the expected Fat Drift (higher production values; shorter, punchier and less experimental song structures – hey, I like the label, but this shit happens) was still a raucous album that’s rarely far from my stereo. It’s more anthemic and hook-laden than its predecessor, but I think overall it’s a less interesting album. This is cool, though – it’s nice to be able to turn to either album depending on my mood. For nostalgia or bitterness or sly, sarcastic anger it’s 2003 Sainte Catherines, and for fuck-you frustration-venting fury, 2006.

Sometime way back in the day I gather they released two other albums. It was tough to dig up any info on these, unfortunately: I know one is called These Stars Are For You, and I think it dates from somewhere between 2000 and 2002. I managed to download TSAF, which is currently languishing on the hard drive of a broken computer, and it’s so-so – it indicates where the band’s sound later went, but is itself pretty mediocre fare. Still, if anyone knows where I can get hold of that mysterious first album (or correct the false rumour that there is a fourth – people might be confusing their The Machine Gets Underway EP for an album), let me know! Fingers crossed they’ll be back in the studio – or Brighton – soon. I’m not too sure, though – the grapevine says that Hugo’s wife/girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy back in March 2007, which I imagine keeps him fairly busy!

To keep us going in the meantime I’ve uploaded a couple of tunes for you to check out, one from each of the two most recent albums. You can also listen to ‘Va donc chier’ (TAoA), ‘Burn Guelph Burn’, ‘Ring of Fire = 4 Points’, ‘The Shape of Drunks to Come’ and ‘I’d Rather be Part of the Dying Bungee Scene’ (DfD), alongside some videos, on their MySpace page.

The Sainte Catherines – D is the Key to Open Heart Surgery
The Sainte Catherines – Get Your Politics Out of my Hair

If you can’t get enough, you might also want to check out Yesterday’s Ring, a Country/Western band featuring some of the tSC boys.

Official Site | The Sainte Catherines @ MySpace | Fat Wreck Chords | Dare to Care Records | (European distributor)

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