Album: Some Kind of Cadwallader
Comments: Upon first spins, I can understand why Algernon Cadwallader’s debut LP, Some Kind Of Cadwallader, wouldn’t appeal to everyone. The lyrics are consistently unintelligible, the music is rarely in that pop ready 4/4/ time, the vocalists miss their notes as often as they hit them, and the band has a tendency to “kitchen sink” their music, throwing everything into a song at the same time, and the album does tend to run together so that if one isn’t focused, the thing will play like one big long track.
So no, Some Kind Of Cadwallader is not for you if you have a taste for simple, straightforward music with limited depth and no longevity. However, for people who prefer their music reusable instead of disposable, then Algernon Cadwallader will be right up your alley.
If I had to put the band into a genre (which I guess I do, since most folks probably haven’t heard the record yet), I would classify them as mid 90s post hardcore. This is music that was not quite as poetic as the early emo of, say, Sunny Day Real Estate, or as chaotic as something like Fugazi or Rites of Spring. A nice middle ground of overlapping guitars and shouted choruses that weren’t important for what they said, but for how they sounded.
Really, the best mark by which to measure this band is the missing link between Cap n’ Jazz and American Football. Not to suggest that those Kinsella-powered bands are so far appart that they need a missing link, but Algernon Cadwallaer slides neatly between the two, borrowing the spastic, melodic howling of Cap n' and the complex, elegant guitar work of AF.
Considering how heavily the band seems to be drawing from these two influences, they are able to keep themselves from tipping into outright theft, cautiously walking a thin line of inspiration. Tracks like “Casual Discussion in a Dome Between Two Temples” and “Horror” are aflutter with calming, yet complex guitar music that rock just enough to keep them from being pure emo fair. On the other end of the spectrum, tracks like “Motivational Song” show enough restraint to hold the band in check, keeping themselves from flying off the track and just making a wild mess of the song.
What I'm trying to say so laboriously here is that the band has polish. They're talented folks who obvious practice a shit-load, and their precision shines through on the album.
At least in the instrumentation. The vocals are a different beast all together. Wild, whiney, and almost always dancing in and out of key, they'll either enchant or repel the listener. There's not too much going on lyrically on Some Kind of Cadwallader, but lyrics aren't really the point. The vocals are just another instrument, another tool to create additional melody for a song. If you like hearing and singing along to every word, this isn’t for you. If you like just making a sound, then you'll dig in.
The best parts of this album come at the beginning and end of the album, with the two tracks that push the band past their Chicago-based influences to a sound that I would all entirely their own. On “Some Kind of Cadwallader” and “Serial Killer Status,” the two best songs on the album, the band does everything right. These two songs bookend the album beautifully, both more rocking tracks that don’t substitute grit for melody. If they can write more songs like these two, they'll be breaking out of the Philly scene in no time.
My only hope for Algernon Cadwallader is that they have more longevity than the bands they imitate so much. I'd love to hear another album like Some Kind of Cadwallader, a refreshing throwback to a time when emo wasn't so goddamn whiny, and was a little more, well, emotional.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Key Tracks: Some Kind of Cadwallader, Horror, Motivational Song, Serial Killer Status
Buy, Steal, Skip: Buy