• Catherine
  • Sleepy EP (March) 1993  (TVT) 1994 
  • Sorry (TVT) 1994 
  • Hot Saki & Bedtime Stories (TVT) 1996 

It’s not altogether surprising that this Chicago-based guitar army would find a nesting spot under the wing of Smashing Pumpkins — the bands are related not only by marriage (Catherine drummer Kerry Brown to Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky) but by a deep-seated disposition towards the big bold sounds of ’70s prog-rock. (The quintet’s slogan is “Better Living Through Noise.”) Co-produced by Billy Corgan, Sleepy‘s oversized sonic webs succeed in drawing listeners into the band’s more abstract pieces, but not in making a lasting impact. Sorry is imbued with a similarly transitory nature. With its wispy, soaring harmonies and flaky layers of amp noise, “Songs About Girls” is worthy of inclusion in a psych-pop 101 primer, and singer/guitarist Neil Jendon proves proficient at sugar-coating some tantalizingly acrid riffs. Half an hour after listening, however, you’re not likely to retain more than a hint of vaguely pleasant aftertaste.

[Deborah Sprague]