Cave In, Perfect Pitch Black
Cave In is a weird band, not because their songs push musical boundaries but because they move from one genre to another so adeptly.
Cave In started out life as a hardcore/metal mix, combining blistering metallic guitars and raging vocals. As they progressed as a band they became an A-grade space rock band, with soaring atmospheric guitars and falsetto singing.
Jupiter, the band’s second album, marked this transition and was a critical success. Soon after, Cave In signed to the dreaded major label. Antenna was released and, as many fans had feared, was seemingly neutered and lacking vitality.
After the commercial flop of Antenna, Cave In went back to their more aggressive roots, recording demos that combined both their metal and space rock tendencies, while allowing the band to vent at the process of being on a major label. These demos became Perfect Pitch Black, which marks the band’s return to independent label Hydrahead.
The album starts out with an electronic intro, but goes straight into “The World is in your Way,” a song that showcases the new hybrid Cave In well. Front man Stephen Brodsky belts out harmonious vocals, and bassist Caleb bellows the chorus over a heavy guitar riff. The juxtaposition of the vocals serves the band nicely, creating a dynamic that the band lacked on their previous album.
Elsewhere in Perfect Pitch Black, Cave In changes it up even more, with the calmer “Down the Drain” and the song that most hearkens back to their metal days, “Trepanning”.
On Perfect Pitch Black, the band has successfully combined the totality of their sound. In doing so, they have created an album that truly sets them apart from their peers and will probably win some of their old fans back.
Cave In’s new album can be previewed in its entirety at www.perfectpitchblack.com
Album: Shake Some Action
Year: 1976 (original), 2005 (reissue)
Label: DBK Works (reissue)
A full decade after Aim Records brought this classic of power pop revisionism to U.S. shores (via import), DBK Works dusts off the masters and imparts on American audiences a beautifully remastered version of the Flamin’ Groovies unlikely masterpiece Shake Some Action.
By the end of the ’60s, the Groovies had spent time slamming out barroom rockers and slight psychedelia, earning them the moniker the “
American Stones” from overly excitable San-Fran music writers. But in 1972, with the departure of founding member Roy Loney, the band hired a replacement and inexplicably disappeared to England.
While the Kinks’ 1971 turn, Muswell Hillbillies, finds the band aping Americana, when the American Groovies managed to stagger back to this side of the pond they sounded a lot like a Merseybeat time machine.
The opening track drives out of speakers with a ping-pong melody of jangling guitars chiming the introduction to a taut pop song about unrequited love.
When the first reverb-laden “I” of the vocal melody blasts from the jangling mess of the band, it’s clear that this band is more than just an old, forgotten throwback.
The plaintive tone of the follow-up “Sometimes” turns what was schmaltz with other purveyors into desperate longing.
On the other originals (of which there are only eight on the 14-track record) the Groovies manage to walk a line between outright copping of early Beatles’ hooks and generating something completely new.
Each tune rolls by with a rollicking comfort that only complete pop delicacies achieve.
“You Tore Me Down,” somewhat-famously covered by Yo La Tengo on their album Fakebook, is included in all its reverby greatness.
Unlike the classic art and proto-punk records of the ’70s, Shake Some Action doesn’t set off to create its own pop world, but instead masters a forgotten world of pop music with such aplomb that the record undeniably deserves a spot between “Please Please Me” and “My Generation.”