Cage the Elephant: Cage the Elephant (Jive: 2009)

If you liked Beehive and The Barracudas: Plastic Soul with the White Apes (2001) then you’ll love Cage the Elephant. For the rest of the world (minus the couple thousand who did) who didn’t hear the Blight, Michigan garage soul rock bands opus here’s some info on what these newcomers sound like.

First of all, they have an interesting back story. They formed in Kentucky and after writing a few songs cut their chops touring the Limey isles. They’ve enjoyed some commercial and critical success over there and on their debut album in the states you can definitely here a Brit influence.

So cliché in debut album rhetoric it’s a ColdStone flavor, their first song is a diatribe against critics and criticism in general which I find offensive. Now, I’m not going to descend from my ivory tower to confront these lowly rockers but still don‘t shit in the hand of those that feed you (once removed). Although they pull it off with an arrogance that makes it fun.

Their sound melds early White Stripes bluesy riffs and vocals with the aforementioned Brit rock flavor. Although they went abroad to find and refine themselves, they haven’t released a perfectly produced album in the least. It retains a raw garage feel through gritty guitars and dark lyrics painting portraits of tortured, repressed youths.

The first single, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” is too radio friendly to have any staying power. The first few listens are entertaining as it’s a pleasantly discomforting story of how greed or need of money begets evil but the shallow, repetitive instrumentation prevents it from moving beyond cute. They reach their stride when they are criticizing conformity’s draw in songs like “In One Ear,” “Tiny Little Robots” (which has a spoken word outro- gotta love it), “Drones in the Valley,“ “Back Against the Wall,” and “James Brown.”

“Lotus,” though a neat song uses a funking wonking guitar and I hate funk. So that sucks.

Now, I’ve listened to it end to end a lot and at first I was enthralled, but the new sheen has faded and now I hear a solid record a couple songs of which I’d play at a party but if when these guys tour stateside, I’ll be there.

7 out of 10

1 Comment

  1. how is it that no one hears “Ain't No Rest for the Wicked” as a total Beck rip-off? The music in it sounds like pure 90's Beck.

    Heiser, you've inspired me – I'm going to start a blog criticizing indie music critic blogs. You get a 6/10 so far.


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