March 27, 2003

Cave In "Antenna

So, here it is--the long-awaited major-label debut of indie-rock darling sellouts, Cave In. How they've grown...from loud, screaming noise, to hard-ass metal, to stellar prog-metal, and now....alternative rock and/or nu-metal? Ummmm, guys, I'm not sure about this one...I mean, your "Lost In The Air" was a bit of a shock, and a hint of what you were up to, and it was good! I loved that little record. Then came Tides Of Tomorrow, that little odds-n-sods that was meant to tide us over until this record came (hey, maybe that's what the title means?) that was interesting, even if it did contain one of the worst lines I've heard in a while ("The reality check is in the mail") to "Tides of Tomorrow," which sounded disturbingly like Sugar Ray--listen again, and you'll hear it.

If I were younger, or if I were a lot more obsessed with Cave In, I'd scream "sellout." The justifciation for such an accusation is quite clear; the songs have not remained the same; they've become glossy, their hair looks a lot nicer, and they really seemt o have been primed-up for some heavy-duty Clear Channel rotation. But I'm older, wiser, and a little more open-minded; realizing that nobody's forcing these guys to make this kind of record, I can't be as dismissive. It's wrong to simply dismiss a band because they're doing what they want to, even if none of the "true believers" hate what they've done.

As it stands, Antenna isn't as bad as you'd think. It's a really great-sounding record; even if you don't like the band, you cannot fault their recording. It's very, very thick, heavy, and dense, yet it's a very friendly, easy-on-the-ears sound. Yeah, it kinda has a bit of a soulless alt-rock sound at times, but those moments are rather few and far between. Stephen Brodsky and company like rock music, and it shows; "Antenna" has all the makings of a radio hit, if radio still plays music like this. Does it? The last time I checked on one of those "modern rock" stations, there was very little difference between it and both classic rock and top-40 pop. "Youth Overrated" sounds like a great single, and I still think that "Lost In The Air" is a great single, regardless. And Brodsky and company are great musicians; Adam McGrath plays one helluva guitar, too, and it's great to hear his musical skills expand so greatly. He's a force to reckon with, and Antenna proves this quite well. Every song, good or bad, has expert guitar work, and I'm at a loss to name other current young musicians who are as brilliant.

Alas, Antenna isn't as good as you'd wish. If you've picked up both Tides of Tomorrow and the Lost In The Air, you heard a band that was atmospheric, a little spaced-out, not really metal, but not really pop. They blended a mixture of several different styles that was rather impressive, and I had this idea that Cave In were going to really make a splash. Those ideas really aren't followed-up on, and the music is, at times, a bit bland--bland for Cave In, bland for any band, really. And some of those lyrics are..."She is rubber and I am glue?" What can I say? I mean, there's nothing that makes me think of the Cave In of old, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you're gonna hint at greatness, you need to follow up, baby.

So, what do we think of Cave In? Great band, a good album that sounds great, even if it is a bit weak. Luckily, though, Cave In have yet to stand still when it comes to their music, and if there's one lesson to learn from these guys, it's that there's always a new sound to be found with every new album. It kind of makes me wonder where they'll go from here; Antenna shows that they do indeed have something good, even if they don't realize their full potential. Staind, Incubus, Linkin Park, Lifehouse---these guys really have nothing to fear from Cave In; their radio-rock crowns aren't in danger--at least for now. Let's just hope that they'll still have an audience when they make that great record.

--Joseph Kyle

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