7 Year Bitch

Gato Negro

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An admirable but not entirely fulfilling effort, Gato Negro encapsulates the somewhat squandered career of its creators. The final 7 Year Bitch lineup of Selene Vigil (vocals,) Valerie Agnew (drums,) Roisin Dunne (guitars) and Elizabeth Davis (bass) released Gato Negro, their last recording in 1996 for Atlantic Records. Dunne and Davis provide powerful post-grunge garage rock that transcends the punk categorization often (and inappropriately) assigned to the band. But Agnew's playing is a minor disappointment as her fractured drumming fails to supply the support her bandmate's fine riffing deserves. 7 Year Bitch's fractured rock revolves around Vigil's toxic, wildly unpredictable yelping. The frontwoman remains intense throughout Gato Negro, really getting her vocal act together on highlight tracks "Miss Understood" and "Whoopie Cat." When she's at her best, Vigil roars along with her band, creating music imbued with feral anxiety. Too often, things get off-track rhythmically; Vigil tries to go it alone, and the band flounders as Agnew's erratic pounding fails to keep it all together. To be clear, this is an above average record, but Gato Negro is not equal to the potential sum of its parts.

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