This is the first of what may or may not become a weekly occurance, I'm going to give a review of one of my favorite albums. The albums I review may or may not be new but they will likely be ones I favor. I'm going to start with what is definitely one of my favorite albums of all time, "Thank You Happy Birthday" by Cage the Elephant. If you have never heard of Cage the Elephant, I would suggest buying their entire catalog, currently two stuido albums, one live album, and some b sides. Anyway, this post will give you some idea on some of their songs.
The album starts off with a scream in the song "Always Something", I was going to say something to the effect of this being one of my favorite songs on the album, but that can be said for more than half of the album. The basic idea of the lyrics in "Always Something" is that old ideal of "bad things happen to good people". The instrumentation on the song is also pretty cool, as it is on the rest of the album.
The second song, "Aberdeen", I can definitely say is one of my favorite songs on the album, even among my favorites. I've heard this song compared to the song "Where is My Mind" by The Pixies. Prior to hearing the comparison, I had never actually listened to anything by the Pixies so I checked the song out. I can hear some obvious similarities and I like the song "Where is My Mind" but I didn't find the similarities over-bearing as some people have suggested (I've read/heard multiple claims of CTE being too obvious with their influences). Anyway, I happen to find this song to be extremely catchy, especially for an alt-rock song. "Aberdeen" is one of the handful of examples on this album where I see CTE as extremely radio-friendly (not a bad thing), great blend of alt-rock and pop catchy-ness.
On to the next song, "Indy Kidz". To me, this song feels like the loosest song on the album. It's not a bad song, but part way through the song it breaks into a trippy almost jam session, the singer starts screaming and half-mumbling, the drums loosen up, and the guitars basically just go with it. The theme of the lyrics of "Indy Kidz"is making fun of self-proclaimed, pretentious Indie Kids, which has been called ironic which i can kind of see. Obviously the theme of the song reaches all the way to the title, with intentional misspelling, and the lyrics which start out with "I want to be just like you!", a sarcastic statement any high school student has heard.
I heard the song "Shake Me Down" three or four months before the album came out when they posted an unofficial video on their youtube. I love this song, it is without a doubt, one of my favorite songs of all-time. The lyrics, if you actual think about them, can come off as a bit random at times, but fit the song very well. The official video goes well with the song and matches the depth of the lyrics, as do all the instruments. I'm not going to ruin the premise of the video but go check it out. You can almost feel the singer pour out his heart and soul on the ''ooh''s (maybe that ones just me).
I don't have much to say about "2024". Its a good song, I find the way it starts out interesting with all the instruments starting out on a set tempo and then speeding up together. I really like the guitar solo on this one.
"2024" is a good stepping stone into the 6th track "Sell Yourself". "Sell Yourself" is one of the more aggressive songs on "Thank You Happy Birthday", not to say its necessarily heavy, but I would call it heavy alternative (if that makes any sense). This song can be summed up with a few lines of the lyrics:"...and if the money's right, you think I'd just agree? so sad to see you torn apart by all your selfish greed...".
At this point the album takes a turn in the mellow direction with "Rubber Ball". CTE fans who had done extensive youtube research will recognize this one as it was one of the songs singer Matt Schultz played as a solo acoustic piece for sometime. (Interesting side note:they actually had this album pretty much done about 2 or so years before it was released.) Rubber ball is a mellow almost acoustic semi-depressed piece. It's not depressed or depressing piece in the typical sense that it would bring you down, at least it didn't bring me down.
The eighth track is another song that loyal fans will remember as it was another one played acoustically in a few youtube videos earlier on. The song is called "Right Before Mye Eyes" but was originally called "Timber me Shivers". I would not be surprised to find out that this song is about doing drugs or no longer doing drugs. I really like this song but it doesn't click with me on the same level as many of the other songs. There is an alternative version of this song at the end of the last song ("Flow") as a hidden track.
"Around My Head" is another one of my favorites. Another radio friendly song, their most recent single is undeniably and unapologetically catchy. The rhythm guitar alone always catches me in this song as it almost bounces. I'm not going to give away the video but lets just say it's a funny and demented video that includes a dead girlfriend.
"Sabertooth Tiger" is the heaviest song on the album. Not much to say about it, though it is a good song. I will mention one memory I have of this song. I'll talk about the times I saw them in concert at the end of this post but the first time I saw them, in 2010, they closed with this song. Me and my friend left early because we just didn't get it. This was before my near unhealthy obsession with CTE started.
Moving along quickly, "Japanese Buffalo" is my least favorite song on the album. Theres a lot of what seems to be gibberish in the lyrics. I guess Adam Sandler helped write the song? ;)
The final song, "Flow'', is the most relaxed on the record. It is a very relaxing song, but it took awhile to grow on me.
I have seen CTE twice in concert now and their energy is undeniable. The first time i saw them my friend Cliff and I took a road trip to ST. Louis (about three hours away from where we live) and saw them at the Pageant with supporting acts 22-20s and Autovaugn (quick side note: I thought 22-20s were better) This road trip is probably the most interesting I have ever had but that is a post for another day. I will say that I got to meet Matt Schultz (lead singer of CTE) outside the venue about 4 or so hours before the concert, he's a really cool dude. The second time I saw them was at the House of Blues in Orlando, FL. I was on vacation with my family and had found out about the concert ahead of time and order myself a ticket. This was the first concert I had ever been to by myself but that didn't matter. They played with supporting act O'brother (who is a very talented young band with an album coming out in the coming months) and they co-headlined with Manchester Orchestra (who I don't really care about other than the songs "I've Got Friends" and "Simple Math"). I actually met the singer/guitarist for O'brother, another cool guy. Seriously be on the lookout for O'brother.
Anyways, I feel Cage the Elephant has an undeniable energy both in the studio and live. I leave you with a video to show their live energy...