Don Caballero: Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live

Don Caballero, Gang Banged with a HeadacheDon Caballero: Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live
Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live. No, that’s not the title of some pornographic clip found on some website offering all the best clips on the web. It’s actually the name of a love letter, a love letter to every Don Caballero fan out there. If you’re unfamiliar, Don Caballero is an incredibly popular, incredibly brilliant, incredibly noisy instrumental math rock band. The band and it’s most recognizable driving force, Damon “Che” Fitzgerald, has one hell of a history. Album after album Don Cab has constantly released solid material, and during it’s 2003 tour, this gem was recorded. Consider it a tribute to Don Cab by Don Cab.

From the start, Don Cab paves an audible road of thunderous drumming and twinkling, methodological guitars. It’s strong and it’s powerful, it’s “Fire Back About Your New Baby’s Sex.” Twelve years after it’s initial release and the song is still great and for better or worse, it seems Don Cab has hardly touched it. It’s a little fuzzier, a little noisier, a little more distortion, but it’s the same good ol` song. This sets the mood for the rest of the album, old favorites redone with a little extra oomph to it. The album continues on, building energy with each song. Once you get on the ride, you’re in for the long haul; half way in at “Delivering The Groceries at 138 Beats Per Minute” you’ll feel yourself truly sucked in; the raw explosive energy and the clamorous yet systematic instrumentation, this is the reason why you love Don Cab and the reason you keep on listening.

With all due respect, Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live seems more like a tribute to Don Caballero than it is an actual Don Caballero album. Some of the band’s earliest fans may argue that with the band’s 2003 lineup, it really wasn’t the Don Cab they know and love. Whether the loyalty to the original recording is to give some sort of better performance or to help simulate the 90’s Don Cab feel is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: there’s nothing spectacular about this album. There’s no secret spice that make this live performance something special by any means. These live recordings might as well be redone studio recordings. The most radical you’ll change is in “Let’s Face It Pal, You Haven’t Lived Afro Pop,” a mix between “Let’s Face It Pal, You Didn’t Need That Eye Surgery,” and “Haven’t Lived Afro Pop.” It’s a solid combo, and without a doubt the most exciting, attractive, and just plain fantastic song of the album. But that’s just the problem, it’s only that song that really packs a punch, everything else has been done before. It’s a total bummer, to say the least.

At the end of the day, the issue isn’t what Don Caballero is doing wrong, but what Don Caballero is doing right. Everything just sounds too good, too perfect, like music made with a cookie cutter. This really isn’t all that bad, however. If you’re looking for a primer in Don Caballero, Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live is the album for you. Not only does it give a mix of 90’s Don Cab, but it features some 2000’s Don Cab, and has the present lineup. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with this album. It’s great, and if you’re a Don Cab fan or a math rock enthusiast, it’s a must have. Just remember it’s missing a bit of salt and pepper, and if you’ve heard it all before, it may be a bit boring hearing it all again.
Rating: 7.3/10
MP3: Don Caballero “Let’s Face It Pal, You Haven’t Lived Afro Pop”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl