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DON CABALLERO

Post Rock/Math rock • United States


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Don Caballero biography
Formed in Pittsburgh, USA, in 1991 - Disbanded in 2001 - Reformed from 2003-2009

DON CABALLERO are a math-rock outfit based largely around the drum work of Damon CHE. Their original lineup was rounded out by guitarist Ian WILLIAMS, guitarist Mike BANFIELD and bassist Pat MORRIS, eventually taking their name from a character on television show SCTV.

Their debut album 'For Respect' was recorded with legendary producer Steve Albini in 1993 and introduced their impossibly complex jazz-tinged style to an unsuspecting world. Matt JENCIK would become the group's new bassist for their widely acclaimed sophomore effort 'Don Caballero 2', commonly regarded today as their masterpiece. After two more releases, the group began to fall apart in 2001, leaving WILLIAMS to focus full-time on his experimental side project STORM & STRESS and CHE to form BELLINI with members of UZEDA.

After reforming Don Caballero with an entirely new lineup, this new cast's effort 'World-Class Listening Problem' was released in 2006 followed two years later with 2008's 'Punkgasm'.

See also: WiKi

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AMERICAN DON [Vinyl]AMERICAN DON [Vinyl]
Touch & Go Reco 2007
$16.98
$22.35 (used)
DON CABALLERO 2 [Vinyl]DON CABALLERO 2 [Vinyl]
Touch & Go Reco 2007
$13.98
$28.22 (used)
Singles Breaking Up, Vol.1Singles Breaking Up, Vol.1
Touch & Go Records 1999
$11.02
$3.71 (used)
WHAT BURNS NEVER RET [Vinyl]WHAT BURNS NEVER RET [Vinyl]
Touch & Go Reco 2007
$14.98
$22.35 (used)
Punkgasm [Vinyl]Punkgasm [Vinyl]
Relapse 2008
$138.00
$117.00 (used)
World Class Listening ProblemWorld Class Listening Problem
Relapse 2006
$14.50
$3.92 (used)
For RespectFor Respect
Touch & Go Records 1993
$12.39
$2.24 (used)
Gang Banged with a Headache, and LiveGang Banged with a Headache, and Live
JOYFUL NOISE RECORDS 2012
$8.99
$8.98 (used)
Five Pairs of Crazy Pants Wear Em: Early CaballeroFive Pairs of Crazy Pants Wear Em: Early Caballero
Chunklet 2014
$19.98
Got A Mile (Flexi)Got A Mile (Flexi)
Joyful Noise
$15.65
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DON CABALLERO discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DON CABALLERO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 24 ratings
For Respect
1993
3.96 | 88 ratings
Don Caballero 2
1995
3.65 | 47 ratings
What Burns Never Returns
1998
4.04 | 95 ratings
American Don
2000
3.85 | 39 ratings
World Class Listening Problem
2006
3.06 | 14 ratings
Punkgasm
2008

DON CABALLERO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.14 | 2 ratings
Gang Banged With a Headache and Live
2012

DON CABALLERO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DON CABALLERO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
Singles Breaking Up (Vol 1)
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Five Pairs Of Crazy Pants. Wear 'Em: Early Caballero / Look At Them Ellie Mae Wrists Go!: Live Early Caballero
2014

DON CABALLERO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Trey Dog's Acid
1998

DON CABALLERO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 American Don by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.04 | 95 ratings

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American Don
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Don Caballero is considered a math rock band, and their sound can get quite dense and complex as it works off of mostly guitar patterns that drive the music while layers get added on top of that, which is usually what the pattern is for math rock bands. This album, "American Don", is a great entrance point for those that are either interested in the band itself or in the math-rock genre in general. In this album, you hear plenty of the King Crimson "Discipline" era influence, but you can also pick up Tortoise influences too. Another great attraction to this album is the way the bass is mixed way up front in a lot of the tracks, and even sounds "Rush-like" at times.

This album is so good, that it is considered a standard for other math rock bands and albums; a bar on which to judge other works. It also influenced many math rock bands to form, and it was a gateway for many listeners to become fans of the genre. In that way, it is an essential album. It is also one of the most accessible in the DC discography, thus the reason why I would suggest it to those interested in exploring the sound. As it is somewhat accessible, it is still definitely not commercial.

I did a track by track analysis of this and was ready to post it, but my screen went black and I lost the review, so I will try to summarize the highlights of the album. The album starts out with "Fire Back..." which is the perfect way to start. Immediately, you will hear the obvious influence of King Crimson in the almost industrial like sound of the guitar layering. This is an upbeat opener, and is over much too quickly. "The Peter Criss Jazz" comes next and is over 10 minutes long. Don't worry, there is a lot of variety to this track as several ideas are introduced and expanded on, sometimes the ideas change by a fade out/in and other times in a more sudden way. This never gets boring during it's run time and is always very interesting and fresh all the way through. "Haven't Lived Afro Pop" has more of the Tortoise influence throughout it. This one returns to an upbeat feel, and you start to hear a funky element here, that you will also hear in other later tracks. "You Drink a Lot of Coffee..." is a short, but dense and repetitive track, almost to the point of self-parody, but it is over before 2 minutes is up.

"Ones All Over the Place" is a very dynamic piece, but more concise than "Peter Criss". You can hear the way the bass is mixed to the front, and you again get that Tortoise influence somewhere in the middle of the track. This is another great track running at just over 9 minutes, and every second is great. The last four tracks run at about 5 minutes each, and each one is an excellent example of the use of layering in math rock, at one time even layering on the bass, another time there is a short drum solo followed by bass and percussion interplay, funkiness abounds in places, density in others, there are even jazz influences thrown in for good measure.

Sorry about the brevity of this review, but like I said, I had a much more detailed review of each track, but ended up losing it because I didn't save my work often (gasp!). Let this be a lesson to me! Anyway, I had to quickly summarize the best I could.

Overall, this is a great album and in my opinion, an essential masterpiece for prog lovers. It acts well as an introductory point for curious music exploration as it is fun, exciting and interesting all the way through. Each individual track has something to offer, and there is a lesser feeling of same-ness in this album, but enough "mathematics" present that you will understand the idea behind the sound, and then you can make the choice it you want to explore some more. I love this album and highly recommend it. I have no issue giving it a glowing 5 star rating.

 For Respect by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.67 | 24 ratings

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For Respect
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is the debut album for the post/math rock band named after an SCTV sketch that was a parody of The Godfather. This particular album is somewhat chaotic and unorganized compared to their later albums. The music is full of tricky, ever-changing meters, is all instrumental and extremely heavy. The music is also based around the drummer Damon Che, who is known by the band's fans as "The Octopus" because of his style of attacking the drums with his arms flying around and looking like the animal he is nicknamed after.

The music throughout the album is quite hard and heavy, but surprisingly not dark like the band "Pelican". Most of the tracks here are rather short, seven of the 11 are under 3 minutes. On the first listen, the tracks seem to sound similar, but with subsequent listenings, they take on their own personalities. One of the longer tracks, "Got a Mile, Got a Mile, Got an Inch" features the audio track from the SCTV sketch that they were named after played under the music. The heaviness continues through most of the tracks and is only interrupted by a few less chaotic tracks, namely "Subdued Confections" (which is named after a line from another SCTV sketch) and "Well Built Road". Of course, these stand out initially because of the change of atmosphere.

The musicianship is quite amazing, but even at 37 minutes, this can seem like it churns along for quite a while to the novice listener. Because of this, it probably isn't the best of The Don's albums to start with. You should probably initiate your listening experience with "American Don" or "Don Caballero 2" which offer more of a variety. Their last two albums "World Class Listening Problem" and "Punkgasm" are a different style than the other albums and feature a revised line-up with some vocals among the tracks.

Rather thick and heavy, yet remaining mostly upbeat, this album needs to grow on you. Some listeners will appreciate the talent at work here, but most will find it too chaotic at the first few play throughs and some will just never understand it at all. I call it good, but non-essential for myself personally, knowing that better stuff is on the horizon. If you love heavy music, you will probably rate it higher, but I would rather have a little more variety. 3 stars.

 Gang Banged With a Headache and Live by DON CABALLERO album cover Live, 2012
2.14 | 2 ratings

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Gang Banged With a Headache and Live
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars "The first ever live album from legendary instrumental juggernaut Don Caballero" beams the notes that accompany this release from Joyful Noise out of Indianapolis, and so it is. But perhaps not the live album the quartet would envision. It is taken from a performance in Chicago just after Damon Che had reformed the group in November, 2003, and it has all the earmarks of a midrange audience recording in front of a small crowd. Which is to say if you're in the band and you've been drinking and smoking and generally played a good set and got a smile from that cute redhead at the foot of the stage and are feeling pretty good about life this sounds like a mighty fine document. It's only the next day in the sunlight that you realize you may have attributed too much to a humble tape of a fun night. I mean let's face it, you really have to like these guys to add this bumpy ride to your collection. Lucky for me I do, but the thought of foisting this rough mix on anybody, even mathrockers, conjures images of cold horror; degradation; tightly forced smiles; and deep, bewildered disappointment. This is the unclean side of progressive rock archiving, and it isn't pretty. Oh no, it isn't.

But you don't dig deep in the still fertile soil of lost music to stay clean. You do it because it must be done. God's work, it is. Eventually Damon Che should (and presumably will) mix and put out a real performance from Don Cab, something worthy of them that sounds friggin' good. Until then we have this and we'll take it, but we don't have to love it. Che's glorious old school jazz hihat intros 'Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex' from American Don, a fair warm-up for the boys. Punch-drunk 'And and and, He Lowered the Twin Down' is beaten into submission; 'In the Absence of Strong Evidence to the Contrary,One May Step Out of the Way of the Charging Bull' finds a groove; And the confusion of 'Let's Face it Pal,You Haven't Lived Afro Pop' reaches the merciless onslaught in 'Belted Sweater' with a taste of Thrash. Indecipherable mess 'Palm Trees in the Fecking Bahamas' and familiar 'I Never Liked You' are met with a loud and enthusiastic crowd and the gig ends with the skipping LP funk-o-rama of 'From the Desk of Elsewhere Go'.

I don't doubt the performance and had I been there would probably have had a thoroughly good time. But a show heard is not a show seen, and therefore must have a higher standard of playability and consideration for the listener. Someday we'll get the live album this group is capable of. But this ain't it.

 What Burns Never Returns by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.65 | 47 ratings

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What Burns Never Returns
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Damon Che is a monster. This whole goddamn band is. And led by the brilliant drummer, Don Caballero obnoxiously crashed the party with their third studio release, a relentless, unstoppable creation. The group's mysterious writing process is only outdone by the sheer will and physicality brought to the performance of the music, a progressed and braver follow-up to the spectacular Don Caballero 2 that has less to do with mathrock and more where this rare communion of players is able to go, and able to take us. We oblige, of course, because not to would be to deny what these guys have offered the world of rock as art. To say that the Dons have contributed a verse to rock history would be putting it lightly.

The album is dunked in a bath of motor oil and spits bits & pieces of machinery often. It is industrial with a small "i", never letting us forget where Che, Morris, Williams and Banfield are from, the mercantile and warehouse habitat of iron, rubber, steel and concrete it so affectionately creates. What Burns Never Returns is truly like finding oneself lost in a huge and abandoned but active factory that you might, if you're lucky and very patient, find your way out of. You can smell the rust and broken parts of the title track arriving with Che's continuous snare ruffle and the confused mingling of strings finding its way, warming-up the axles, wedges and pulleys of this perpetual motion machine. Damon Che kicks the living sh*t out of this baby but the band counters with deliberately contrasted lines creating the trade-off between force & distance, the friction these four utilize so well. Lightly slapped guitars and anchor-heavy bass parts for 'In the Absence of Strong Evidence to the Contrary,One May Step Out of the Way of a Charging Bull' with havoc one minute and wonky rhythms the next, heavily flirting with ~ if not tongue-kissing ~ dissonance. Fuzz thrash chords blow open 'Delivering the Groceries at 138 Beats per Minute' pumping with internal combustion, compressed air, elastic energy, and electrical discharge. Man meets man-made in 'Slice Where You Live Like Pie', a protest piece perhaps and a point where some listeners will simply throw their hands up and hit the skip button like a junkie on his next fix. And I wouldn't blame them a bit.

'Room Temperature Suite' before brooding 'The World in Perforated Lines' take the hands off the throttle a bit, the latter trailing off into vacuum tube oblivion giving way to frustrating 'From the Desk of Elsewhere Go' showing Che's remarkable knack for leadership and group dynamics. Those late, late shows at the ratty club downtown? When the last band was winding down a decent but frankly tortured set that threatened to cripple anyone who was paying attention while trying to avoid the sizable puddle of beer & burrito vomit in the middle of the floor? Apt imagery for these two cuts, but things are saved by almost melodic 'June is Finally Here'.

A near 5 stars if not for the small amount of less than inspired work, but in the end the boys gave us something that showed, simply by doing it, that true progressive rock was far from depleted, demonstrating how both the complex and the primal could come together to orbit and affect the other in ways not previously conceived.

 American Don by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.04 | 95 ratings

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American Don
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A very interesting, well-performed though not particularly well-produced album that helped establish the more up-tempo nature of the Post Rock/Math Rock sub-genre. Unfortunately for these ears, the sounds, melodies and recording techniques are a bit too raw, are not as engaging or pleasing as, say, those of Ulver, God Is An Astronaut, Red Sparowes, or sleepmakeswaves. American Don has some of the sound that reminds me of THE MARS VOLTA's monster debut, De-Loused in The Comatorium (listen to "You Drink A Lot of Coffee for A Teenager"), but American Don's music becomes a bit too repetitive over time. Damon Che is a very good drummer despite my not liking the recording sound used for his drums. I have to admit to being a bit surprised at my reaction to this album because so many of its riffs and sounds feel founded in the KING CRIMSON "Discipline" sound and structure that I love so well. I guess it comes down to whether or not I'd like to hear 55 minutes of the song "Discipline" or not. Or whether or not I'd like Brufurd's drums recorded as Don Caballero has chosen to record Damon Che's.

Favorite songs: "Details on How to Get Iceman on Your License Plate" (5:36) (9/10); "Ones All Over The Place" (9:01) (8/10); "Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex" (4:43) (8/10); "The Peter Criss Jazz" (10:36) (8/10).

Great titles.

3.5 stars: Not really an "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection," but it really is better than "good, but non-essential."

 What Burns Never Returns by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.65 | 47 ratings

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What Burns Never Returns
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Horizons
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars A ballsy album that captures the transition from one masterpiece to another, and hosts many of their strengths.

Don Caballero is the Math-Rock band. The classic trilogy of Don Caballero 2, What Burns Never Returns, and American Don is where you turn to if you want to indulge in everything that makes Math-Rock and experience the band that shaped the genre into what it is today. Here you find an album that marks departure of the monstrous, metallic demon of Don Caballero 2 and the genesis of the definitive sound with slick, speckled abrasiveness. I love this album because of the obvious experimentation heard and the serious nature of the music. The atmosphere here feels dark, tough, or even maniacal.

The guitars are the most drastic change here. At times they still retain their distorted, chunky sound from American Don 2, but now they invest some more creativeness and release a dangerously off-putting spring of sound that sounds like the strings are being chewed on. It's amazing honestly. Damon Che on drums is astounding as he will ever be. Bringing some sneer and corruption to jazz drumming. Pat Morris on bass gives an insight of the musical direction at any given time, either providing thundering bass that will echo through your soul or quick snippets of more thoughtful lines. The band overall sounds like it has this method of disconnection giving intricate, individual thoughts that all converge into a single voice.

Don Caballero 3: Disjointed guitars and drums try to mesh their sounds and place in subtle changes to slowly accomplish that until it becomes apparent after drum ques. Unique percussion add a face to the crazed guitars once again. The switch in mood from the dissonant collaboration to the more accessible Math-Rock creates great tension and keeps the lengthy piece from being a bore. Riddled with sonic jabs and disorder, Don Caballero flaunts their ambition for a new sound while still retaining comfort and precision.

In Absence of Strong Evidence..: A more typical Don Cab Math piece that could have fit anywhere on American Don. Guitars are technical and distinguishable, the bass has more personality popping out every so often for some nice licks here and there. The guitars create such strong melodies that they mimic a vocalist. To my fancy, the drums don't dominate in the mixing nor does Damon try to sound too prominent in his playing. The ending is unusual to find in this song. The band sounds like they have been crushed are being smeared on the floor.

Delivering the Groceries at 138 BPM: Just like the prior song, here is a track that blends perfectly into another part of the trinity. The rough guitar interplay with thick bass tones duplicate the sound found on Don Caballero 2. This song is heavy, dark, and substitutes technicality for pure metal edge. The drum bridge is brilliant ties this knot with a slight math exit.

Slice Where You Live Like Pie: Taking the brawniness from Don Caballero 2 and integrating the swift passages and cold compositions, here we have the transitional sound. Interlaced guitars create a fibrous and entangling shell that quickly shatters from the change from glossy tone to a fierce, yet wonderfully catchy, guitar line. Once again, Damon seems to be a bit restrained and actually having a sense of balance here. The climax is reached after gaining momentum with aid of a now passionate drummer and siren-like guitars.

Room Temperature Suite: This song's sections paint a picture of a sulking child that quietly discusses their conflicts on their own. Having mainly gloomy guitars on the surface, the drums surface and provide some power with relentless double-bass. Afterward, like a troubled child sent to their room, the band's sound begins to linger and fester. The 3 bridges link 3 individual small sections in the song. They have their own identity and aren't really a production of prior development of the band. I don't see this as a bad thing.

The World In Perforated Lines: Contrasting Room Temperature Suite, Don Caballero makes this short song begin with simple guitar lines, drum grooves, and walking bass to make progression and musical inclusion more simple and natural. The bass is fantastic throughout the entire song, having attitude and remaining complementary. The guitar duo of Ian and Mike gradually change their conversational playing: adding distortion, incorporating goofy bending, or becoming more talkative with their notes. I don't care too much for the distorted, slowed ending though it doesn't feel out of place or ill-preformed.

From the Desk of Elsewhere Go: Guitars feel suspended as they loom and scratch the sonic surface with their sporadic style. The bass emerges momentarily to provide warmth, and the drums are slick but sometimes mimics the guitars' off-putting rhythms. Overall, you will find a fusion of former themes on the album reappear with a more experimental vision. The atmosphere is eerie and leaves you wrapped in a ice-plagued blanket.

June Is Finally Here: Feeding on the energy built upon by From the Desk Of Elsewhere, June is Finally Here does a wonderfully job at sustaining the off-putting guitars, loose percussion, and the sparse bass until Don Caballero decides to transport us to a more warm, uplifting environment. One of my favorites from the band because of the success and accuracy found all within the title.

What Burns Never Returns seems to be the middle child here, having American Don and Don Caballero 2 command all the attention they well-deserve. Though, to me, this album serves as a link to two essential masterpieces of the genre and progressive music in general - this role does not mean that it cannot deliver as much creative power and high quality. I prefer this release more than Don Caballero 2 mainly because i adore the bizarre aura i get from the album. This album is a real trip for me to listen to and i feel i discover more strange fragments constantly.

 American Don by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.04 | 95 ratings

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American Don
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by elcaballodecaligula

5 stars Although I wouldn't consider this album as a definitive highlight or milestone in progressive music history, the reason for which I consider it a masterpiece is just because Don Caballero reaches musical precision, finesse and superb mastery in a way that can almost be thought as easy. It's like a football (soccer for all of you "americans") star that, throughout time, achieves strength, speed, technique and vision in a PROGRESSIVE ascendant way that gives him notoriety worldwide. It's a shame people tend to classify this as "math rock", because that can never be the precise name for it. If this is math rock, then almost all progressive rock/metal is math, even jazz, and don't get me into concrete, electroacustic or contemporary ensemble music. It is also not the proper name because the way these guys unfold LIKE STAIRCASE their musical language is kind of a very novel way of expressing musical ideas inside the prog "genre". And that's exactly what prog music is about: novelty. And, finally, this is the exact reason why American Don is a masterpiece.
 What Burns Never Returns by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.65 | 47 ratings

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What Burns Never Returns
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There's points on this where Don Caballero remind me of what would happen if Robert Fripp took control of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. Like the Magic Band, Don Caballero's music is based on the band members playing apparently unrelated rhythms which intersect and intertwine in a complex manner, but unlike the Magic Band they don't have this ragged, haphazard quality to them which makes it look as though the whole edifice might fall apart at any moment; instead, like King Crimson, the apparent anarchy and chaos is carefully and minutely orchestrated. It's a potent and unusual mixture which is absolutely not for everyone - it's not to my tastes, for that matter - but it seems to point to the very core of this elusive concept of "math rock", so if you are interested in that genre this might be a good place to start exploring it.
 Don Caballero 2 by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.96 | 88 ratings

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Don Caballero 2
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Don Caballero is one of those bands where I find what they do quite technically impressive, but they don't quite hold my interest over the course of an entire album. See, for instance, Don Caballero 2, which presents the listener with a series of angular math rock exercises which show a fair degree of technical ability on the part of the band but which wear on me over time simply because the songs all blend together into one indistinguishable morass. Time signatures change up regularly, but overall the tone and atmosphere is monotonously one- note. Math rock fans who appreciate tricky musicianship might enjoy this one but I suspect even they might find the lack of variation wearing.
 Don Caballero 2 by DON CABALLERO album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.96 | 88 ratings

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Don Caballero 2
Don Caballero Post Rock/Math rock

Review by The Truth
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This is one of those albums I really have to be in a certain mood to "get", which is sad because this truly is a stunning record. Those moments however when I'm in the mood, it's mindblowing for me and I can see why this band has such a dedicated following.

The music here is erratic, complex and when in that mood, (sorry for the repitition) it's a really fun listen. The band's excellent musicianship shines brightly with every second of the record as they make these epic little tunes sound like they're having fun playing them. When a band enjoys something they're playing, it shows and it shows clearly with Don Caballero. Don Caballero 2 is an inspired effort and that's one of it's real charms.

I however, don't find myself coming back to this alot as I have some bad memories (non-music related) associated with my first listen and I don't want to be reminded of it all the time but that certainly does not affect what this band has achieved. It's fast and bulbous math-rock with little flecks of post-rock and it's all good.

Thanks to useful_idiot for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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