By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
One of the math-rock genre's pioneers, Don Caballero formed in the early '90s, picking up the torch from Slint. And, for almost a decade, this group of Pittsburgh instrumentalists led the charge into complex, rhythmic workouts characterized by sharp angles and hard edges that exchanged verse-chorus-verse for deep-seated edifices like oil paintings in depth and layering.
At the center of Don Cab's steely churn is virtuosic drummer Damon Che, who reconstituted the band with an entirely new lineup in 2003, three years after the original lineup's breakup. His flailing arms earned him the nickname "The Octopus," and his high-energy, stop-on-a-dime playing is the engine for the band's chewy, heavily syncopated rumble. After releasing World Class Listening Problem in 2006, the band embarked in a bit of a new direction for 2008's Punkgasm. It's Don Cab's first album to feature vocals (on 5 of 14 tracks), and interspersed with the typically wiry, undulating arrangements are relatively straightforward stabs at atmospheric indie rock.
While the album's reception may vary among hard-core fans, after five standard-setting albums, Che's earned the benefit of the doubt.
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