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Cage The Elephant – [Album]

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Wednesday, 02 February 2011

When Cage the Elephant released its' debut album just shy of two years ago, the band exhibited the kind of pent-up energy often found in one of Jack White’s many musical excursions; hectic, driven, and bouncing off the walls like a kid snowed in after a three-day sugar binge. That was a really strong start but, with their second studio album, the Elephant is really out of its' cage and the result is a sound that rampages willy-nilly across musical lines; creating both beautiful desolation and just plain damage.  

Fans of the first album ― and there are quite a few, seeing as their debut put them in the international spotlight ― will come in looking for some of that signature swagger from two years ago, and they’ll be delighted to find it. That lip curling, balls-to-the-wall rock is a theme that carries across the twelve tracks that comprise Thank You, Happy Birthday, but that’s probably the only thing that does. The five-piece band rampages from grunge rock to metal to punk and back again; making some turns with more success than others. Take the kicker, “Always Something,” for example. The funk-laden track is heavy with wicked bass lines provided by Daniel Tichenor and mad, driving beats stuccoed together with singer Matt Shultz’s piercing nasal vocals a la Jack White in, well, anything. This, like the tracks “Aberdeen” (a nod to Kurt Cobain’s hometown) and “Right Before My Eyes” are fun rock tracks with a touch of The Hives (the band, not the disease) and the Arctic Monkeys with a good dose of Nineties grunge.

Then the album wanders, and occasionally it wanders well. Check out “2024” ― it begins subversively with an opening that sounds like a derailed hard rock train before slipping into some surfer rock vibes complete with warble-y guitar work, similar to something the Shout Out Louds would build, but with significantly more grit. It’s meaty and heavy surfer rock. “Japanese Buffalo” is a fun punk-esque track, and “Paper Cut” is a snappy, crunchy single that feels like members of the Kinks dropped in on that particular recording day. A few kicked-back tracks, “Rubber Ball” and “Shake Me Down,” offer temporary respite and are essentially stripped down, simple melodies with bursts of grungy guitars.

Then there are the places where the album walks a bit too far off the path. “Indi Kidz,” in a bid to be ironic, is not in the least bit indie, but is a vocal scream-fest where metal mashes up against rockabilly on speed before the whole mess devolves into instruments spinning of their axis and Shultz screaming into the mike. “Sell Yourself” works similarly, smearing the lines between punk and metal sensibilities and making a mess in the process. Those tracks exemplify just how poorly things can go on this album, and clash dramatically with the songs that work well. You can call it exploration or call it growth, but Cage the Elephant got into a lot of other people’s backyards in this one. In a lot of places, they showed new strengths and talents, but they’re just trespassing in others and the result is an album that, while it has plenty of high points to be excited about, is overall without direction. Maybe the Kentucky five don’t need to cage the elephant that apparently is their ambition; but maybe they need to at least keep it in a pen.

Artist:

www.cagetheelephant.com/

www.myspace.com/cagetheelephant

www.twitter.com/cagetheelephant
www.facebook.com/cagetheelephant


Album:

Thank You, Happy Birthday
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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Cage The Elephant – [Album]

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

What opportune timing Cage The Elephant (or rather, their record label) has. After the announcement came down that Jack White would be embarking upon another side project apart from The White Stripes and The Raconteurs (for those that don't know, it's called Dead Weather and also features members of The Kills), Cage The Elephant's self-titled debut – which has been out in Europe since the middle of 2008 – finally sees release in North America. As “In One Ear” rolls out, it'd be very easy to assume the band is just a group of designer Jack-White-Stripes impostors (particularly given singer Matt Shultz' White-ish predisposition to nasaloid barking) thrown to the wolves to make a quick buck off of the unwary but, if you listen a little closer and think about it, the excitement around Cage The Elephant is warranted; not one song in these eleven comes up short.

From the opening petulant rant of “In One Ear,” Cage The Elephant swaggers along like five street walking cheetahs with hearts chock full of napalm and set fire to every naysaying critic in sight while simultaneously identifying with the new underground, the underworld (check “Ain't No Rest For The Wicked”) and rock n' roll both classic and indie. There's no faulting that scale of ambition, but there's no faulting the results either; by combining a healthy dose of vintage Motor City mayhem (think MC5, The Stooges, Ted Nugent) with an equal amount of the aestheticism typically associated with new indie (dirty and amphetamine-fuelled pop structures like those of The White Stripes, The Hives and The Vines before they fell apart) and sinewy guitar fire, Cage The Elephant assembles a set of tunes that could play as well at street level as they could in a stadium and made all the more salacious because at no point does the band outright express an ambition or allegiance to either. Songs like “No Rest For The Wicked,” “Back Against The Wall” and “Back Stabbin' Betty” all simply play out like the work of a band that genuinely believes rocking out and making a crowd swoon is its own best reward (doubt it? Check the lyric sheet for “In One Ear” for proof) and, because they don't hold back for a second and don't play it safe ever, makes anyone listening want to shake their hair in front of their eyes, scream on believe in the band too.

That infectious, 'damn the torpedoes' attitude dominates every micro-tone of the album. At every turn through Cage The Elephant, the band goes for broke and doesn't pull a punch which makes Shultz push his voice beyond its limits at regular intervals through the record's run-time and, while that magical meltdown point always seems apparent, the band always pulls the proceedings back from the brink and just takes it on home. That earnest spirit coupled with Cage The Elephant's ability to simply roll out songs that get stuck in the minds of anyone that hears them is what gets this album over. There's no telling how long it'll last for the band (who ever knows for sure in the music business?) but, here, Cage The Elephant gives cocksure, snotty and smart-assed an all-new, golden sheen again.

Artist:

Cage The Elephant online

Cage The Elephant myspace

Download:

Tiny Little Robots from Cage The Elephant.


Album:

Cage The Elephant's self-titled debut is out now and available here on Amazon .

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