Cage the Elephant

Unpeeled

RCA

Aug 07, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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In a daring experiment for a band that's known for their raucous live shows and string of alternative hits, the recently released Unpeeled, by Grammy winners Cage the Elephant, features 21 stripped down versions of some of their best songs. 

It's daring because they stripped away the gritty and grimy, and often electric, special effects that make the band so appealing to begin with. The sonic layers have been peeled away, exposing the melodies and forcing the songwriting to stand on its own.

Those who are skeptical need not be. For starters, the stripped down tracks are polished up with a string quartet and additional percussion. Secondly, if it wasn't for an occasional smattering of applause or a stray squeal from a fan, you would never know these tracks were recorded during a few intimate live shows. But more importantly, the songs withstand the added scrutiny this format affords, proving that Cage the Elephant are not only very capable songwriters but pen tunes with a heartfelt earnestness that rings true in any format.

One could argue that these are tamer versions of wild alt-rock songs made more palatable and appealing to the masses. But I would argue that these versions demonstrate the band's uncanny ability to construct alluring compositions that all start from a strong melodic framework. Some cuts are even enhanced by this presentation. Songs such as "Cold Cold Cold" and "Spiderhead" are allowed to breathe and let the lyrics and singer Matt Schultz's vocals steal the show. 

Here's hoping that Cage the Elephant continue to push the envelope and keep daring to take chances. Unpeeled proves they are evolving from being a very good band to being a great band. (www.cagetheelephant.com)

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