Le Chat Lunatique Under the Covers, Vol. 1 (Salad Bean Records)
Muni Kulasinghe’s howling vocals, his violin skittering across the music like beads of water on a hot skillet. John Sandlin’s ax felling bar after bar of music with ferocious dexterity. Jared Putnam’s slaphappy bass and slyly sweet vocals. Drummer Fernando Garavito’s irresistibly low-down grooves. It’s all here on six covers the group has perfected over the last few years on the bandstand. The many high points include the churchy baroque intro to “House of the Rising Sun,” which then descends into fevered desperation, Sandlin’s solo on “Belleville Rendez-Vous” drunkenly dancing across a fence top, and the deliriously locked-in groove between Putnam and Garavito on “Minnie the Moocher.” “Frère Jacques,” “Straight Up” and “La Mer” round out the collection, each with its own ear-opening moments of inspired lunacy. While paying close attention to every tiny detail—the dabs of echo on “Jacques,” the perfectly timed cat’s yowl on “Belleville”—Le Chat plays with a demonic abandon that makes you suspect they’re having even more fun that we are. (MM) CD release on Saturday, Dec. 5 at El Rey Theater!