Type in “Don Caballero” on the MySpace music search engine and you will be flooded with a ton of acts who cite the Pittsburgh rockers as the main source of their every note. It’s a classic case of that age-old adage: “Often imitated, never duplicated.”
But whether you’re a band who can take Don Cab’s influence and create something new and exciting like Long Island’s Heston Rifle does, or just breaks out in bad instrumental karaoke every damn time, you cannot deny this lineage as a testament to the sound drummer Damon Che and company have spent 15 years creating.
“World Class Listening Problem,” Don Cab’s debut on Relapse Records, is a pivotal release, since it’s the first without longtime guitarist Ian Williams, who left to form Battles. But hey, it wasn’t his show anyhow. The sole core of this group and its sound is Che, who is at the top of his game on the new album, playing with the ferocity of Dave Lombardo and the precision of Billy Cobham. The man can cook. And by employing not one but two replacement guitarists in Eugene Doyle and Jeffrey Ellsworth in addition to bassist Jason Jouver, he has created the fullest sounding Don Caballero release to date.
These 10 tracks, flanked by wild song titles like “Mmmmm Acting, I Love Me Some Good Acting” and “Theme From Bricktop Clowns,” are classic Don Cab through and through, propelled by undeniable musicianship and a heightened ear for riddim that could very well take the battle to Williams’ new band. — Ron Hart