Monday, June 14, 2010

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #23: Don Caballero - World Class Listening Problem

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

When most people think of the best mathy, instrumental music from the 00s, the trendy pick is probably Battles. Their debut nearly made the cut, but the album wound up somewhere just outside the Top 50. Pittsburgh's Don Caballero has been around since the early 90s, pumping out seemingly erratic instrumental prog alternative all the while. If you read the critics, they say that the band was past their prime by the time they got to 2006's World Class Listening Problem. It had been six years since their previous record, and perhaps many had simply forgotten them. But this is the album that really stuck with me. I play it all the time. A week rarely passes where I don't use this disc for inspiration, whether I'm at work, writing, or riding the bus. It could be that they have better records, and maybe in time I will have the joy of discovering them. But at this point, this record is like crack for me.

The 00s weren't exactly a decade where more avant-garde music was embraced. Outside of the popularity of Radiohead and Tool, "pop sensibilities" pretty much reigned. Perhaps that's why we didn't hear much from Don Cab for so long. But now that we've moved into the 10s, it seems that people are warming up to math again. Listening to the previously referenced Mastodon record, especially the vocal-less version, it's not hard to assume that Don Caballero influenced them.

At first blush, the music is aggressive and overtly dissonant. It greets you like a distant, provocative cousin who just moved to your town. You're not quite sure you should even talk to the dude. But then you share a few beers with him, and you realize he's a bit strange, but absolutely awesome. You don't know that he's going to get along with your friends, but you are sure (and happy as hell) that he's in your life to stay.

Most of you will not like this. But I am totally hooked and am totally certain my admiration will continue for decades to come. Actually, it wouldn't hurt if you could have a couple two three beers first.

Previous Entries:
#24 - The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
#25 - Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
#26 - Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
#27 - Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows
#28 - Common - Be
#29 - The Futureheads - News and Tributes
#30 - The Black Keys - Rubber Factory
#31 - Wolfmother - Wolfmother
#32 - Juno - A Future Lived in Past Tense
#33 - Bad Religion - The New America

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