Cage the Elephant
Described once (by me) as King of Leon’s scrappy, and more interesting lil’ stepbrother, Kentucky’s own Cage the Elephant has built an impeccable global reputation the old-fashioned way – by telling compelling stories through well-crafted songs that are woven into the grooves of irresistible records. And proving the adage, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it,” the band’s latest slab, Unpeeled is much more than merely an “unplugged,” “Greatest Hits Live” collection.
Produced by Ben Baptie and Cage the Elephant, Unpeeled is an engaging, career-spanning set. Featuring all-new, stripped-down, re-assembled, re-arranged, and re-imagined versions of the Grammy Award-winning band’s best-loved tunes, Unpeeled was created live in various U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Knoxville, and Nashville. The result is a warm, organic-sounding record – one that reveals the song’s purest inner spirits, and one that boasts beautiful string accompaniments, and is drizzled lightly with smatterings of audience approval, for enhanced authenticity.
Assuming new identities, while still maintaining essential original DNA components, longtime staples such as “Cry Baby” and “Sweetie Little Jean” (2015) both enjoy tight, natural-looking facelifts, while “Spiderhead” and “Cigarette Daydreams” (2013), along with “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” (2008) rank as several of the noteworthy highlights. However, it’s the delicate and hypnotic acoustic gem, “Rubber Ball” that shines brightest among this 21-song treasure trove.
In sum, at the risk of dropping the oldest and most sophomoric review cliche ever, Unpeeled truly is a definitive, must-have collection for all Cage the Elephant fans – old and new. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.