Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #56: "Sabertooth Tiger" -- Cage the Elephant

Sometimes after creating a debut record that was a runaway hit and marked the emergence of a new voice in Southern-styled rock, you say, "Fuck y'all, we're going '90s, we're doing a complete 180, and there's nothing you can do about it." Enter Cage the Elephant.

After the five-piece's self-titled debut caused quite a stir with two No. 1 singles on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart, Cage the Elephant released Thank You, Happy Birthday as an ode to the '90s scene that influenced them. And somehow along the way, they got better. Basically, they became one of the top American rock bands we have today. Crazy, huh?

From standout single "Shake Me Down" to the soaring chorus of "Aberdeen," Cage crafted an impeccably versatile and endearing record that sits atop many's end-of-the-year lists (or, at least, in many top tens).

What's strange is that, looking past the first three-fourths of the record, there's actually some gems that I think may be easily overlooked. In particular, check out "Sabertooth Tiger." Because... wow.

I don't think anything in rock this year sounded this frantic. Breakneck guitar riffs, some of which sounded like sirens. Unbridled lead vocals. An eerie breakdown mid-song that gives way to head-banging guitars accompanied by Matt Shultz's shrieks.

No one saw this coming. No one expected Cage the Elephant to go insane. But it finally happened, folks. This is insanity in song form.


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