Tag Archives: cage the elephant

Album Review: Static Jacks – In Blue

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New Jersey’s Static Jacks released their debut LP If You’re Young in 2011. Garnering a few solid reviews, it was overall a straightforward garage rock album that was easy to enjoy and acted mostly as a straight blast of adrenaline. Their live show backed it up, and it wasn’t a stretch the call them the best band to come out of the Garden State in quite some time. Unfortunately, the genre itself had been on the commercial decline for a while at that point and is still even now, so it’s no surprise that a great debut from a ‘rock’ band didn’t make the impact it should have.

In 2013, they make a point of growing up a bit with new record In Blue, and their slightly tweaked sound might suit them even better than the indie punk outfit they wore on their debut. For one, this album sounds far fuller then their LP prior, and honestly makes it sound ‘scrappy’ in comparison. That’s likely on account of Andrew Maury (RAC, Tegan and Sara, Ra Ra Riot) handling production duties, as he did on the excellent Spray Tan EP they released last year.

There’s a sonic comparison to be made with Cage the Elephant here, but instead I’ll say that they’ve definitely taken a few Pixies cues in terms of tone and dynamics. “Wallflowers” makes the best use of the loud-soft structure, and was an obvious choice for a lead-off single. The best thing about these songs compared to older tracks is that the band seems more comfortable in slowing down the pace and letting the music breathe a bit. “Home Again” is a nice example of this, keeping a brisk tempo yet still coming off as nothing but relaxed, even during its big (mostly) instrumental chorus.

While If You’re Young had a fair share of British indie rock comparisons, they aren’t really present here. “Ninety Salt” makes good on the opening track’s hook, coming off as the most epic song the band’s recorded and another obvious choice for a single. “Katie Said” is another standout cut, and feels like the 80’s without necessarily sounding like the decade itself. They’ve gone for that reverb-drenched effect before, but this might be the most well-written song they’ve done in the style and really shows off some range in terms of what the Jacks can pull off. Penultimate track “People Don’t Forget” even has some piano laced through it, and another catchy chorus to get stuck in your head before “Greensleeves” closes the record, sounding like a shinier Titus Andronicus with a better sense of melody.

Now it’s time for the big questions. Will this record be commercially noticed in an electropop filled 2014? Will rock and roll be reignited and overtake dubstep? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a great album from a band that deserves to be listened to by far more people. The Static Jacks found their sound a while ago, and they still just keep improving on it. Let’s see where they go next…

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Album Review: Cage the Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday

Cage the Elephant have a new album out, and use it to prove to the critics that they aren’t the one trick ponies their debut showcased.  While their self-titled was good and had more than a few memorable singles, the group expands upon their modern southern sound and creates a much more electic batch of songs here.  The only gripe is how their influences stain their sleeves, but that’s not something people pay attention to when there’s a band rocking out in front of them.

The biggest musical focus point on this record seemd to be the task of updating the Pixies’ sound to 2011 standards.  They did it, flat out.  In fact, they did it better than Kings of Leon did on their third album, which is saying something.  Matt Schultz is a dead ringer for Frank Black when he wants to be, scream and all.  Check out “Aberdeen” if you’re looking for that.  Then there’s Oasis, whose melodies show up all over “Around My Head.”  Once again, this isn’t a bad thing, for the band keeps their angsty snarl throughout the record, and that’s more than enough  to overcome any cries of “ripoff” that other critics are sure to throw at the band.

If you miss the Moldy Peaches, look no further than a lullaby melody in “Rubber Ball” to soothe your longing.  I do wish this track was placed later on the album, as it disrupts a flow built up on the first half, but that was their call.  One of my personl favorites (other than lead single “Shake Me Down”) is “Japanese Buffalo,” which reminds me of the Avett Brothers for some reason.  It also is a spiritual sequel to the Harlem Shakes’ “Eighteen,” with a doo wop homage that sadly never made it away from demo form for the latter band.

While there are influences more apparent than others, the album is a short and enjoyable listen in the end.  There aren’t really any songs I’d consider bad except maybe “Always Something,” but that’s only because it has too much of their bare bones swagger to be the first thing you hear.  “Aberdeen would have been a good place to start the album, but maybe that’s just me.  One thing I waill say is that if you like this album, I urgently ask you to check out the Rock n Roll SoldiersSo Many Musicians to Kill from 2006.  It is very much in the same vein as this album and was unfortunately overlooked as the great album it is.

Ok, that’s all I have to say.  Enjoy the new single, followed by an old rehash…

Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down

Rock n Roll Soldiers – Gunz Out