CAGE THE ELEPHANT – ‘Tell Me I’m Pretty’ (4/5)

(RCA)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Cage The Elephant Cover

 ‘Tell Me I’m Pretty’ is the fourth studio album from alternative rock band Cage the Elephant.

Their last offering ‘Melophobia’, released in 2013, saw the Kentucky group attempt to establish their own distinctive musical identity, which they achieved rather successfully, and earned them a Grammy nomination.

The foundations that were laid with that album have been built upon, the sound is even more eclectic, the band borrowing elements from such groups as the Rolling Stones and New Order.

However, they make it their own, through frontman Matt Shultz showing off his talent for writing frank, personal lyrics in such tracks as the opening song ‘Cry Baby’, a veiled attack on materialism, ‘Sweetie Little Jean’, dealing with the disappearance of one of Shultz’s childhood friends, and ‘Punchin’ Bag’, about a woman who decides to fight back against her abusive husband.

It is a piece that requires attention, it isn’t something to dip in and out of, which is positive though, as every track has a unique and distinctive style to it.

Like most albums, ‘Tell Me I’m Pretty’ does have a constant, overall theme, which is love, even though it does require a few listens to get it, and is more subtle in some songs than others.

Overall, Cage The Elephant have created an album that, with its diverse sound and strong lyrics, will appeal to fans who like talented bands with musical variety.

TOP TRACK: ‘Too Late To Say Goodbye’

BARONESS – ‘Purple’ (4/5)

(Abraxan Hymns)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Baroness Cover

 In 2012, Georgian alternative metal group Baroness were on a roll.

Their just-released third album ‘Yellow & Green’ had been critically acclaimed, showcasing a more progressive sound, a departure from their sludge metal roots. With this and their fast-expanding fanbase, the band was tipped for the top.

Then, disaster struck. The group were involved in a near-fatal tour bus crash, leading to the bassist and drummer both quitting, and frontman John Baizley almost losing the use of one of his arms.

Therefore, it is no surprise to hear that the main theme of ‘Purple’, their fourth album, is emotional pain. Baizley places his personal trauma into the songwriting, meaning the lyrics have a deep emotional depth.

Baroness’s style has evolved into a sound that is easily accessible and not too heavy. This is apparent throughout the album, some of the tracks, for example ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Kerosene’, are fast-paced, catchy and anthemic, with simple choruses, whereas other songs, such as the instrumental ‘Fugue’ and the concluding track ‘If I Have To Wake Up’ are more slower, with gentler riffs and subtle drum beats, with ‘The Iron Bell’ having elements of 70’s prog rock.

Overall, ‘Purple’ is an album which has wide appeal, even to music fans who would usually not touch metal with an eight-foot bargepole, and it shows that despite the obstacles that they have faced in the last few years, Baroness have firmly stuck two fingers up to adversity.

TOP TRACK: ‘If I Have To Wake Up’

FOALS – ‘What Went Down’ (5/5)

(Transgressive /Warner Bros.)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Foals Cover

‘What Went Down’ is the fourth studio album from the Oxford band Foals.

This record is the follow-up to ‘Holy Fire’, released in 2013 and resulted in their second nomination for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, their 2010 album ‘Total Life Forever’ being the first.

According to frontman Yannis Philippakis, ‘What Went Down’ is their ‘loudest and heaviest record to date’.

It certainly starts in that way, with the opening track, sharing the album title, dominated by hard and fast guitar riffs and drum beats.

As the album progresses, the songs switch between heavy and light with ease, for example, ‘Snake Oil’, which is fast and furious, is followed by ‘Night Swimmers’, a funky number that could have been written by Nile Rodgers.

This shows how considerably the band have matured since their 2008 debut ‘Antidotes’, they play with much more confidence these days, and Philippakis’s vocals have developed to provide a richer sound, making even the more mediocre tracks stand out.

Overall, it is a great listen, it seems that the majority of the songs have been carefully crafted and are unique, which is an outstanding feat, considering the short space of time from announcement to release.

In my opinion, this is a candidate for album of the year, and will surely be Foals’ third Mercury Music Prize nomination.

TOP TRACK: ‘What Went Down’

WELCOME TO MUZAK!

Muzak Logo

Muzak is a new website and publication covering all aspects of rock!

It will have honest album & EP reviews, interviews with up-and-coming bands on the  scene, and reviews of gigs by both established and emerging talent.

So, sit back, relax and have a good look around!

ZAK SLOMAN

Editor, Muzak Review