The Key Studio Sessions: Catbite - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

If you need a pick-me-up this Thursday — and on this particular Thursday, I think it’s safe to say we all do — look no further than Philly’s Catbite.

The Philly four-piece delivers an intoxicating, incredibly fun blend of ska, rocksteady, and reggae, with a driving punk undercurrent, and as we’ve started to see ska poking its head into popular culture again these past several years (what’s up, The Interrupters), think of Catbite as the local answer to the revival-revival.

The band is comprised of charismatic frontpersons Brittany Luna on lead vocals and keys and Tim Hildebrand on guitar and vocals, with the tight rhythm section of Ben Parry on bass and Chris Pires on drums. They have an affinity for the classic 80s two-tone years, as well as reggae sides dipping back to the 50s, and it shows in their originals — this is a band that vibes much more with The Selecter and King Tubby then ostentatious horn-section assisted 90s bands like Reel Big Fish.

photos by Kay McCaney | @kaymccaneyshoots

In this Key Studio Session, Catbite plays five songs from its self-titled debut LP, released last may on vinyl via Bad Idea Records. The set opens with the jagged screamer “Scratch Me Up,” before bouncing around the room to the cool rocksteady “Sneaky Feelings.” The simmering, self-reflective reggae of “Already Gone” slickly launches into the reckless abandon of “Amphetamine Delight,” where Hildebrand and Luna share harmonies and swap solos while Parry and Pires move all fast and furious. “Come On Baby” is a bright, romantic and carefree ska joint to wrap up the set, and as Luna entreats “let’s have some fun,” it’s hard to say no.

As you can tell from this performance, this band’s live shows are not to be missed. Unfortunately, we don’t know when the next one of those is going to be — their March 27th gig on South Street got cancelled as part of the coronavirus quarantine — but you can support Catbite in other ways. Grab a copy of their self-titled debut album over at Bandcamp — digital or vinyl, take your pick — and follow them on social media at @catbiteband all around to see what they plan on doing when we’re all able to re-emerge.

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