Review Roundup: Cake, Cage the Elephant, Social Distortion, The Dirty Heads, and Sick Puppies

It’s been a long while since the last roundup, a feature that takes brief looks at the radio singles on the FM airwaves. Time to start it back up and visit some new old friends.

Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down
“Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” was undeniable with its country twang that can’t help but call home to pasture Beck‘s “Hotwax”. It was too good, thankfully backed up by “In One Ear” and “Back Against the Wall.” This train’s in apprehension station with Thank You, Happy Birthday, but the tempered, ticking pace of “Shake Me Down” is as controlled as a powder keg nestled snug amidst those Kentuckian’s bourbon barrels of alternative. Brad Shultz, Jared Champion and the rest, with the staggered build, keep the stage lights focused on the garage punk Bowling Green outfit.
7.5

CakeSick of You
There is nothing more reassuring than megaphone-esque John McCrea’s voice. It’s quite contradictory this security blanket in a recessionary times focused on hate and hiding away, but hey…it’s comfort food for the ears. (Alas, Say Anything’s “I Hate Everything” lacked this element, perhaps for the lack of shouts of ‘Hey!’ and ‘All alone!’) This is classic Cake, which is more lasting than “Wheels” off their last effort, Pressure Chief, but comfortably stops in the race and chills while “Never There” continues their discography legacy. Welcome back, Cake. It’s been a while.
7.6

The Dirty HeadsStand Tall
Whenever you hear bands like The Dirty Heads, yep, they’re from Cali. Yup, they warm you up. Uh-huh, sometimes it’s infused with rhymes. Does it matter? Nope, it’ll heat you up more than wrapping yourself around your radiator, dreaming as far away as you can from those poorly sealed frosting windows. As a follow-up to “Lay Me Down”, Jared Watson and Dustin Bushnell and the crew are separating themselves from Sublime (with or without Rome). Keep it up, guys. The world needs warmth (a bit more in the Midwest if you can make it happen).
7.2

Sick PuppiesMaybe
“Odd One” and “You’re Going Down” made people forget “All the Same” was the flagship single of Sick Puppies. The Aussies from Sydney have a tough follow-up, but are giving it a shot with “Maybe”. It teeters on the safe side of the fence of alternative rock friendliness. It’s good, but just good. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe it needs more snow tires and less strings.
5.5

Social DistortionMachine Gun Blues
Mike Ness mentioned some time ago that the follow up to 2004’s Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll would be different, and he follows through. “Machine Gun Blues” carries back to 1934 in a gangster tale which, despite talk of two-toned shoes and pinstripe suits, feels distinctly classic and gritty of a late 70s city. New drummer David Hidalgo Jr. takes the drumsticks from Atom Willward’s departure, stepping right in line with a distinct percussive punch in the short brick bridge of a punk driven barrage.
6.9

Thoughts?

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