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EP Review: Cage The Elephant – Deep Hands: Live Session

2 min read

To date, Kentuckey rockers Cage The Elephant have wowed audiences the world over with their 3 studio albums – 2008’s self-titled debut; Thank You, Happy Birthday in 2011 and last year’s champion effort Melophobia. Many would contest however, that it’s their unparalleled live show for which they are best known. Having released the Live at Grimey’s EP in 2010 and Live from Vic’s in Chicago in 2012, Cage the Elephant are no strangers to bottling the unique energy of their live show and this month, they drop their Deep Hands: Live Session 5-track EP to show you they’ve still got it.

Cage The Elephant Deep HandsWith all the tracks (except closer Shake Me Down) being pulled from Melophobia, it’s great to hear the tunes translate from studio to stage just as well as the band’s previous live-recording efforts. Much like the album, Deep Hands opens with the textured dynamism of Spiderhead. The wonderfully loose breakdowns on the album are taken to another level in the live-performance sphere and segue into the irresistible alt-country of Cigarette Daydreams. The bold inclusion of strings really flesh out the arrangement in ways that live records generally fail to capture, but they work a treat when cast against the more intimate parts of the song.

The psychedelic garage punk of It’s Just Forever again showcases how potent CTE are as a live entity and the song’s second half devolves into a sludgy, Sabbath-esque riff-fest before an incredible free-form, let’s say “avant-garde” outro (It’s essentially just milking the end, but it’s still incredibly fun to hear). Last year’s hit single Come a Little Closer is a much looser affair than it’s meticulous studio-recorded counterpart but again, the charm of the carefree, proudly sloppy approach commands a completely different, but equally powerful reaction.

Thank You, Happy Birthday favourite Shake Me Down closes out the set with walls of distortion that play on the loud/quiet/loud trope almost as well as its founders The Pixies ever did at their howling prime. It’s a great way to finish and distils the essence of Deep Hands perfectly. It’s always great to hear a band strip back to the bare essentials and just rock the hell out, and that’s exactly what Cage The Elephant has done here. Beware though, it might get loud.