CD Review of Cage the Elephant by Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant: Cage the Elephant
Recommended if you like
Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks,
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Label
RCA/Jive
Cage the Elephant:
Cage the Elephant

Reviewed by Alexzandra Hackford

F
rontman Matt Schultz once described his band’s sound as "a punch in the face." All the way from Bowling Green, Kentucky, Matt and brother Brad Schultz, along with Lincoln Parish, Jared Champion, and Daniel Tichenor, make up the funk/punk five-piece Cage the Elephant. Recorded in just 10 days, the band’s debut self-titled album melds the grit of southern rock, with the energy of funk, and the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll. The combination of producer Jay Joyce and Matt Schultz’s thought-provoking songwriting makes Cage the Elephant an outspoken, unforgiving compilation of boisterous rock tunes with brash lyrics and toe-tapping breakdowns that is sure to have even the surliest critics singing along.

Cage’s first single, "Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked," is a quirky tale of hookers and thieves, driven by a sultry hook over which Shultz sings, "I can't slow down / I can't hold back / Although you know, I wish I could / No there ain't no rest for the wicked / Until we close our eyes for good." It’s the perfect single for radio, making a statement both musically and lyrically, while walking a fine line between indie and mainstream.

The best thing about Cage the Elephant is that it’s full of personality. Tracks like "In One Ear" and "Tiny Little Robots" are a solid one-two punch in mainstream America’s face, flipping a giant middle finger at their detractors and declaring of independence from the norm. Matt Shultz’s fiery vocals bring the intensity, and Parish’s raw guitars are wound perfectly around Champion’s funky beats.

The majority of Cage the Elephant is best described as rowdy. Influences from Chuck Berry to Black Sabbath are audible on tracks like "James Brown" and "Lotus" where strategically placed breakdowns swell from simple licks to turbulent pit anthems. Standouts include the humorous "Back Stabbin’ Betty" and the hippie-centric "Free Love," which rounds out the record nicely.

The only drawback to Cage is that the intensity found in their live shows is only half-present on the record. When Shultz starts thrashing on the floor – microphone in hand – or jumping into the crowd from balconies and rafters, there’s a wild energy that feels appropriate to the spectacle. On the record, however, Schultz’s raw vocals and Parish’s guitar are the only thing to draw you in immediately, leaving the rest to the imagination. The spark is there, but it’s no comparison to seeing them in person.

Absence of live energy aside, Cage the Elephant offers a glimpse of an indie sensation at work. It will be interesting to see which song is chosen as the band’s next single, and if they can still survive in the mainstream with such a unique sound. If you haven’t heard the band yet, and are looking for something that will get your boots movin’, this record will definitely do the job. Roll down the car windows and listen to this one at full blast. You won’t be disappointed.

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