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Don Caballero
American Don

by Matt Peterson
May 19, 2001

File Under: Instrumental
rating: B
tracks

1. fire back about your new baby's sex

2. the peter criss jazz

3. haven't lived afro pop

4. you drink a lot of a coffee for a teenager

5. ones all over the place

6. i never liked you

7. details on how to get ICEMAN on your license plate

8. a lot of people tell me i have a fake british accent

9. let's face it pal, you didn't need that eye surgery    

related links
  • Touch and Go Records
  • Don Caballero wins big with their fourth full length on Touch and Go Records, American Don, putting 9 songs of lighter material through their beautifully masterful instrumentation. The band has apparently softened out as compared to their earlier stuff (there is distortion only for about 15 seconds on the whole record), but when asked about this slip, they have said, "This material is definitely harder than the older stuff." Compared to their older stuff, which is supposed to knock you on your head with complex music, this one comes off as more masterful of letting people get into it. This record shed the heavy, as their What Burns Never Returns (TG185) sheds the math. Don't get me wrong, once while listening to it a John Belushi circa "Animal House" worshiper asked, "Is this CD skipping or something?"

    The album can be characterized fully as good musicianship. All the members are completely masterful of their instruments. As I look through the notes I made while listening to the album I see constant remarks such as, "great drumming, amazing guitar work, how'd they do that?, etc…). The album shows song writing skills 50 steps ahead of most, which can still knock you on your head, and it can still send virgin inexperienced ears into a frenzy. It has consistently great and tight production, especially the drums, which grab your attention right away as Damon Che leads the band through their onslaught. They tweak a specific sound for the album that enhances the music tenfold.

    This album also has a soothing affect, and at times it brings to mind Dark Side of the Moon type riffs. There is wonderful use of fading, and stop and starts, as segues between parts of songs, for if you do not pay attention you can ask yourself, "how did we get here?" It is very progressive, complex (but listenable) indie instrumental music. It can be delicate, but it remains hard and heavy. I love the repetitiveness of the droning guitar riffs, which can easily penetrate a lying down listener in concentration. They have long tracks, which are cohesive, but not monotonous. They have a tasteful and accessible complexity, which involves a myriad of guitar sounds and seems to have a jazz influence )it is surprising to hear that all the guitars are listed to one person, Ian Williams).

    The band shows confidence and control in their art and song writing. It is a very carefully planned out, experienced and knowledgeable musical expression and statement, which pushes the envelope. The repetitiveness, in a proper listening environment (mostly concentration), will completely melt together as it enters your ears. The album is a very enjoyable listen. It is respect demanding, almost on a mission of maintaining a level of holding your complete attention. The album progresses with a defiant, rebellious musical mission/statement and ends just as defiantly without climax. It has a steady flow of music, not as dramatic and emotional as other instrumental bands.

    The cover art shows someone with their head turned, which is appropriate as the band takes away individual recognition and lets the music take over. Lyricless, without drama, climax and rising action it makes a lot of other albums look like Who opera albums.

    Being in an instrumental band, as I am in, you are left with burden of naming your songs. It's hard to do this and not seem too emotionally wrapped into the feelings of your music. For example, "the ocean sound of a dazzling dream," or "a tear falls on wet concrete." They pull it off with quirky, dryly sarcastic song titles such as, "details on how to get ICEMAN on your license plate."

    Matt Peterson is a Staff Writer. Contact him at MattP@rockzone.com.

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