RX Bandits - Mandala (2009) - “Breakfast Cat”
The more I listen to this song, the more I realize that it’s a great amalgamation of everything that made RX Bandits’ music so great, in one cohesive and beautifully crafted piece. It definitely starts out as one of their most aggressive, proggy, and riff-driven compositions, more akin to something that could be found on an earlier Sound of Animals Fighting release (a side project of guitarist/vocalist Matt Embree and drummer Chris Tsagakis), but it differentiates itself from that body of work through Embree’s soulful vocals and the song’s final movement, which submerges you headlong into the band’s distinct, watery, and gorgeous atmospherics, typically heard live during improvisational jams. Even more impressive is the fact that the last three RX Bandits releases were recorded live, with all musicians playing together in the same room with minimal overdubs, in order to capture the energy and dynamics characteristic of their live performances. You can actually hear Embree grunt in time during the pauses between verse and chorus, a small but telling testament to the band’s passion for groove and feel. The ending from 3:08 onward just crushes me every time.