Review: Cabin’s I Was Here is Heartfelt, Haunting, and Heavy on Hooks* - U2 Feedback

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Old 08-22-2007, 06:46 AM   #1
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Review: Cabin’s I Was Here is Heartfelt, Haunting, and Heavy on Hooks*


By Andy Smith, Editor

Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, the rock-pop quartet called Cabin has inspired all kinds of top-shelf comparisons and accompanying acclaim.
The grumpier critic could cry “We hardly need another band with sweet sounding epic anthems to elicit more comparisons to Coldplay and Keane.” Put another way: The gruff cynic in all of us might moan for more grits without so much syrup. But frankly, why be so gruff and grumpy? With Noah Hewett-Ball’s soaring singing and Sarah Welder’s fruitful fiddle, listeners will want to be soothed and seduced.

After listening countless times to the latest EP by Cabin, my visionary verdict is that anything this heartfelt and haunting should not be burdened by the names of its beatific Brit-pop peers. Like neighbors My Morning Jacket, here’s another outfit that could be called “Kentucky’s Radiohead.” Cabin is that good.

But perhaps because of the bold comparisons, the band dodges the question of influences this way: “We don’t know how our music is influenced by any one specific band. We listen to it all and come from different musical backgrounds. We really don’t talk about it that much.”

Heavy on hooks and lyrics ripped from rock’s eternal glossary, “I Was Here” still stands tall, tugging at the ineffable with its inspired riffs and refrains. Better than the teen films it should end up on the soundtrack for, the second track “Dance With Me” delivers such sappy yet certain declarations about scribbling the name of a beloved on a notebook or making a mixtape or simply imploring: “Rescue me/I’m dying, please.” Only those so jaded or drugged to have forgotten young love—or those so unlucky to have never experienced it— could reject this song in all its superior allure. “Cover Your Eyes” is a compelling rock hymn that comprises the ultimate combination of religious doubt with spirited faith, making me think that this songwriter is perhaps a pantheist or Unitarian, a Gnostic or agnostic—or something along those lines.

The recent record begs to be replayed—and that’s a good thing, since at five songs it’s guilty of an almost criminal brevity. Clearly the “singles,” the first two songs can be sampled on MySpace and purchased for a mere dollar.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of catching this band’s live set. Sadly, I traveled to the show late after another engagement and only caught a few songs. More disappointing, most of the people at the venue preferred drinking downstairs to dancing upstairs. But without doubt, the almost ethereal quality of the disc translates and transforms towards intensity at a club, where bassist Billy Lease and drummer Dave Chale shine more than they do on record. And frankly, I feel the rhythm section especially deserves its props since Sarah and Noah are such incredibly charismatic artists who could easily “steal the show.”

Hope beyond the hype, Cabin will continue to tour and come back soon with another record, hopefully a full-length this time. Perhaps they will land some choice opening spots and with that the opportunity to play for larger crowds. With bands like the Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket bringing a profound notoriety to the rock music of America’s mid-south, may Cabin ride the wave to find a wider audience.

I Was Here was released on May 29 by Machine Records. Please visit or for more information.
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