Interview with Cage The Elephant at Lollapalooza in which they discuss video games and other on-the-road distractions. On their sophomore album, these Kentucky boys downplay the White Stripes inclinations of their 2008 debut, instead spreading their sound across the alt-rock map: Pixies, Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, jangle-pop, ska, noise, grunge. Opener "Always Something" moves from "Rock the Casbah"-style Middle Eastern reggae to Beck-like rapping; the hipster-chiding "Indy Kidz" mixes dub with surf guitars; "Sell Yourself" is punk-funk about selling out; "Japanese Buffalo" starts out doo-wop, then stage-dives into the moshpit. The punk's more fun than the ballads, but even the latter get plenty of angst on. -CHUCK EDDY
Cage The Elephant
If nothing else, Cage The Elephant deserve to be enshrined when somebody eventually puts together a Nuggets compilation of '00s garage-rock one-hit wonders. Their yelp-talked signature song -- one of the most addictive rock-radio singles of 2008 -- is "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked," a more-or-less blatant White Stripes rip about the necessity for both legal and criminal persistence in late-capitalist America. ("I got bills to pay/ I got mouths to feed/ There ain't nothin' in this world for free.") The song reached No. 83 on Billboard's Hot 100 and the Top 40 in England (where the group actually first broke through). It was the third single off the self-titled debut album of the five-member band from Bowling Green, Ky. Subsequent singles "Back Against The Wall" and "In One Ear," then "Shake Me Down" from their more varied 2011 follow-up Thank You, Happy Birthday, made Cage The Elephant fixtures near the top of alt-rock tallies. They added a chipper jolt of punk energy -- alternately spiced with ska, surf, blues and funk -- to playlists often overrun by dreary emo and post-grunge.