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american don
Don Caballero
American Don
Touch & Go


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I find it amusing that many record stores file Don Caballero under C. In much the same manner as you would find Michael Bolton slipped into place under B, Yanni carelessly tossed in under Y and the Young Black Teenagers omnipresent in the cut-out bin, you often find What Burns Never Returns or For Respect jockeying for their respective positions at the beginning of the C bin. Not that any of this has any bearing on the band or their music; itís just an interesting phenomenon (Ask Jethro Tull fans about it some time -- Ed.). It also serves as a bit of foreplay before I get into what you people really want -- the music!

American Don is the fourth album proper from these longtime math-prog-post-whatever-else-youíd-care-to-lump-them-in-with rockers. They've reconfigured themselves as a three piece in the wake of the departure of long-time guitar wizard Mike Banfield. With the loss of their seminal guitarist behind them, remaining members Damon Che, Ian Williams and Eric Emm set out to prove that a stripped-down lineup does not necessarily equal a stripped-down sound. American Don heralds the birth of a leaner, meaner and still frighteningly competent Don Caballero.

Any lingering doubts regarding Don Cab's sound are immediately put to rest by "Fire Back About Your New Babyís Sex", which leads with ferocious pummeling and intricately laced guitar patterns, building towards a crushing climax that will leaving you wondering whether or not the ceiling has caved in. "The Peter Criss Jazz" initially fools you into thinking that itís as mellow as a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park...until the enormous swells of pulsing drums and double-time bass kick in, turning the song into a free-form Led Zeppelin-styled romp. "You Drink a Lot of Coffee for a Teenager" lives up to its name with fidgety rhythmic shifts and fantastically erratic guitars, successfully mimicking an adolescent who has spent too much time slugging down Java at the IHOP. Brilliant titles like "Details on How to get ICEMAN on Your License Plate" and "A Lot of People Tell Me I Have a Fake British Accent" seemingly beg you not to take the songs seriously, while at the same time delivering stunningly complex and melodic guitar soundcapes augmented with hyperactive rhythmic workouts.

If an album like American Don is representative of what happens when a band loses a key member, I can imagine a lot of bands praying that someone crucial to their lineup gets the itch to move on...and pronto.

American Don by Don Caballero: File under D.

-- Jason Jackowiak

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