Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cave In

Cave In- Until Your Heart Stops
Cave In- Jupiter
Cave In- Tides Of Tomorrow
Cave In- Antenna

It took a few years for Cave In to grow on me, mostly because, like their brethren Converge, I thought their records were simply a soup of riffs. Couldn’t hear a single song in ‘Until Your Heart Stops’ as it played in the background while I cooked, cleaned, whatever. A record relegated to an unfortunate role- the one that gets pulled out at parties two beers after everyone but the most steadfast record collecting dorks have broken from the clump huddled around the stereo. “Hey guys, check THIS crazy shit out,” etc. I’m totally That Guy at parties (as are about half of my friends. I’ve gotten much more mellow in the last few years, though.)
The true test: putting a record on in a car stereo and driving around, preferably in the early summer so the windows can be down. A few years back, something clicked inside my head, and all the sudden, ‘Heart’ was not only listenable, but cohesive and stunning. Sure, there’s too much metal on the record for one hand, but there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s little hints of melody, little snatches of pop buried underneath the sledgehammer riffs and three-packs-a-day gr/yowls, snippets of electronica the band couldn’t have possibly known would go from innovative to fashionable to de rigeur in the span of a few years. Still one of the definitive records from a specific moment in time- a reminder of the first few years I lived here in town.
‘Creative Eclipses,’ not reviewed here because I have it on 7”, sorta paved the way to ‘Jupiter,’ the point at which the manistream press (or whatever passes for it here in Boston) started to pay attention to the band. ‘Jupiter’ was supposed to send shockwaves into the indie/metal/whatever community, the change from hardcore to rock, except that everyone: a) had seen the band play, and knew it was coming- they were covering ‘Dazed And Confused,’ f’r the luvva Pete! and b) had also bought ‘Creative Eclipses’ and thought that ‘Luminence,’ the gateway song, was awesome (it was.)
So, then: ‘Jupiter’ dropped, got written up, and, although not shocking for the reasons mentioned above, was very, very good. It was accessable to people outside ‘the scene,’ more grounded in traditional rock roots than hardcore (there’s only like one time where Brodsky screams.) Seriously, the record and the band deserve a lot of credit- changing so radically causes backlash, as does getting the cover of the free local weekly. Jesus, the fact that they changed gears and managed to not completely suck is worth plaudits. Then you take into account the fact that the record is very good, AND sounds all sorts of convincing when listened to with the windows down….you get the idea.
‘Tides of Tomorrow,’ the followup, sounds a little bit more subdued, perhaps a little bit poppier, and contains a Giants Chair cover (I was totally waiting for that moment when Giants Chair got a little boost, a little push because of the cover. It happens sometimes- terminally overlooked/underappreciated band gets covered by a bigger band and blows up a little bit. The only result that I saw was in record reviews [Jesus, I’m falling right into the trap, aren’t I?]which duly noted that the band was covered. That was it. No reunion tour, no explosion in the resale values of their t-shirts on eBay. Nothing. Anf the shirt’s in NEAR MINT! C’mon, people!) When listened to directly after ‘Jupiter’, there’s not really a whole lot of difference- the progression makes sense.
Ditto for when you listen to ‘Tides’ back-to-back with ‘Antenna,’ Cave In’s major label debut. ‘Antenna’ is a collection of rock songs, which, slightly glossier production aside, don’t sound too much different from the prior two albums (‘Inspire’ totally steals its riff from ‘The Immigrant Song’- trying to identify which riff is being stolen from where is a good time.)
Even though the records sound similar in our back-to-back-to-back listening scenario, ‘Tides’ and ‘Antenna’ don’t stick, don’t do it for me. Maybe the band’s stylistic progression added excitement to the whole thing back in the day. Maybe the band wrote catchier riffs earlier. Or maybe I just need to put ‘Tides’ and ‘Antenna’ in the car stereo and drive around for a little bit of perspective.


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