Cage the Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday

2011 Relentless Records

As I’m writing this, the headphones are on, volume is way up and I have chills.   This is about the 20th time I’ve listened through to Thank You Happy Birthday, and I can’t stop.

I have to admit that when I put the disc on for the first time, lead track “Always Something” caught me completely by surprise and kept me off guard for the entire album that first time around.  I love albums like this…the ones that you have to listen to a second time (and more) to really appreciate, and that reveal new hidden treasures in the mix with every listen.   Said lead track quickly became a favorite whatwith the fun and daring attitude…oh yeah, and Daniel Tichenor’s bass lines bouncing the song over the top.

From song to song, everyone has a chance to shine.  You really must listen to this disc on headphones…the variety of textures and brilliance of the mix will blow you away and you will leave with  a real appreciation of guitarists Brad Shultz and  Lincoln Parish and their experimentation with (read: COMMAND of) guitar tones.  Their chemistry is something special.

Hooks for miles and surprises around nearly every corner, this in my opinion is one of the all-time great sophomore efforts for any band.   “Aberdeen” was the first song that clicked with me immediately with a chorus I can’t get out of my head, followed by “Right Before My Eyes” and “Around My Head.”   “Shake Me Down” is in there, too with its delightfully unorthodox approach.

There’s no attempt to rehash their debut and all of the experimentation sounds like a band genuinely in love with making music.   That’s why an abrasive song like “Sell Yourself” (the arrangement is a dimepiece) or the driving foreboding of  “Indy Kidz” can sit comfortably in the same space as something as immediately hooky as the aforementioned “Right Before My Eyes.”   Matt Shultz’s mini-monologue on “Indy Kidz” is just priceless (“…I gotta go down to the schoolhouse and get some shoes and get the right haircut.”) and his lyrical intelligence is once again on full display.

The album is really a clinic on guitar tones, arrangement, textures and sheer creativity.   Kickin’ drummer Jared Champion takes on every twist and turn in the music and makes sure that every song is loaded with groove to go with the power…check out “Sell Yourself” for a great example of this.   Champion is one of my favorite drummers, bar none, and he and Tichenor are just a dynamite rhythm section.

Cage the Elephant as a band is a brilliant pastiche of the best elements of rock from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s…and they’re miles above the self-loathing and/or self-importance of most of their modern contemporaries whatwith having more talent, creativity and guts than 99% of the newer bands of the past decade.

Forget emo, nu metal, alt punk, or whatever the flavor of the month is…Cage the Elephant is making timeless music that defies categorization (other than it’s ROCK) and will outlast 99% of the new stuff that’s out there now. There’s more heart, conviction, creativity and variety on this disc than most bands have in their entire catalogues…and it just plain works.  I can honestly see listening to this disc 20 years from now and still loving it.  If music keeps you young, CTE is my fountain of youth. lol  But enough about my age.

I have to include Cage the Elephant in with my favorite bands like Clutch, The Tea Party, Hot Head Show and Swell as the perfect antidote for the ear poison of much of today’s mainstream music.   And the masses are appearing to be ready for CTE, as Thank You Happy Birthday debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts.   Congratulations guys…now I’m going to have to find excuses to keep writing about you in the Sonic Abyss since you’re now some of the best music people HAVE heard!  Hmmm…maybe CTE will be the first entry in the Abysmal Hall of Fame.

Yeah, I know…I’m just raving on and on about these guys, but to have 5 people this individually talented and with this kind of synergy just does not happen very often, friends.   Jump on now and enjoy the ride.  Hopefully it will be a long one.

Rating:  5 out of 5

CLICK HERE TO BUY Thank You Happy Birthday AND OTHER CAGE THE ELEPHANT MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM

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2 Responses to “Cage the Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday”

  1. I love Thank You Happy Birthday as well! I can’t get enough of it… I’ve probably listened to it about 10 times all the way through in the past week. LOVE “Shake Me Down,” and the new video for it is cool too! I just saw that they are going on tour soon, so check out of they’re coming to you! I know I am super pumped to see them in STL on Feb 24th! Woohoo! 🙂

  2. Why, I concur with that conclusion of course…

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