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Don Caballero

Post Rock/Math rock

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Don Caballero American Don album cover
4.02 | 116 ratings | 9 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex (4:42)
2. The Peter Criss Jazz (10:35)
3. Haven't Lived Afro Pop (7:34)
4. You Drink a Lot of Coffee For a Teenager (2:41)
5. Ones All Over the Place (9:00)
6. I Never Liked You (4:59)
7. Details on How to Get Iceman on Your License Plate (5:35)
8. A Lot of People Tell Me I Have a Fake British Accent (5:23)
9. Let's Face It Pal, You Didn't Need That Eye Surgery (5:09)

Total Time 55:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Williams / guitar
- Eric Emm / bass
- Damon Che / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Andy Vogt (photo)

CD Touch And Go - TG218CD (2000, US)

2xLP Touch And Go - TG218 (2000, US)

Thanks to PROGMAN for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy DON CABALLERO American Don Music

DON CABALLERO American Don ratings distribution

(116 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DON CABALLERO American Don reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The trio of Damon Che (drums), Ian Williams (guitars) and Eric Emm (basses) out of Pittsburgh, PA is the second incarnation of this outfit which was originally formed in 1991 by Che and Williams. On this, their fourth album proper, the powerful ensemble create a most accessible effort with a collection containing less arithmetic and more expansion. The music is focused on textured minimalism and rising tides of rhythmic lines, and 'American Don' is less heavy and increasingly inward than their previous records. If Steve Reich and Robert Fripp got together for an album, it might sound like this. Fascinating stuff.
Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars Don Caballero has come to be known as one the most interesting, unique, and wildly complex bands out there. With American Don, the group has been reduced to a trio. This trio provides us with Don's least aggressive output, focusing more on textures than arithmetic. There is hardly any distorted guitar to be found. The music is still extremely intricate, and it clocks in at about 55 minutes long. Frankly, it is difficult to make an album of instrumental music this complex and seemingly a-melodic intersting for such a length of time. It takes a lot of time and focus for the listener to fully realize all the qualities here, but the growth rate of this disc is exponential once you get through it a couple of times. For new listeners, the key here is to get through the 10-minute second track, "The Peter Criss Jazz." After such an exhilerating and enjoyable opener ("Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex"), this one really kills the momentum and drags for a bit. This track is really the only slouch on American Don, as "Haven't Lived Afro Pop" delivers a peppy, even catchy medium-paced return to form and then sends us off into musical euphoria for the remainder of the disc. Those who are already familiar with the other Don Caballero albums are more likely to appreciate this one, but I'm sure any open-minded music fan can get into this. For me, this is Don Cab's finest output and I can't call it anything other than a masterpiece.
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."

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I'm not the biggest fan of this style of music but this is a band who does it quite well. Of their 6 studio albums I have the middle 4 and would probably rate "Don Caballero 2" from 1995 as my favourite for the KING CRIMSON vibe. Funny that of the 4 albums I have from these guys this is the only one without 2 guitarists. They are a trio here and I miss the second guitar, especially the interplay. "American Don" was released in 2000 and I'm going to say it again, that second guitarist gives the band more options. Having said that I think this album is most people's favourite from this band.

Top three would include "You Drink A Lot Of Coffee For A Teenager". Now the previous track "Haven't Lived Afro Pop" would make my top four and I have to mention the bass early on as for the first time on the record it crushes the soundscape on this track. Back to the song I was talking about and like most of the tracks we get intricate guitar, heavy bass and drums. Like a herd of elephants here. So intense early on. "I Never Liked You" is catchy and it makes me want to move unlike the other songs. The closer rounds out my top three and it's called "Lets Face It Pal, You Didn't Need That Eye Surgery". I have to say I laughed when I read the song titles when I first got this. This one is heavy to start as guitar joins in and check it out before 4 minutes. Love that drum work and it's heavy from here to the end.

Probably a 3.5 star album for me but I'm bumping it up. And yes please check out the leader of this band Damon Che who is pretty incredible on the drum kit.

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#640291) | Posted by elcaballodecaligula | Friday, February 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hmm, Don Caballero's American Don. One of the most known math rock albums, influencing many bands to come in this genre and even some bands out of it, this should be even considered a classic, no? Well, in my opinion, no. As much as this album is influential, it barely sparks an interest in my ... (read more)

Report this review (#492350) | Posted by The Runaway | Friday, July 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Don Cab has attracted the label of math rock very often, and that isn't too surprising- though it's more prevalent on their earlier stuff, American Don is a good helping of dizzying and unconventional time signatures. Despite the fact that it's certainly one of the main points of Don Cab's style, ... (read more)

Report this review (#275131) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Sunday, March 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Don Caballero American Don is (to me) the essential math rock album. If you do not have this album do yourself a favor and buy it! If you want to hear each musician at his best, this album pretty much has that. Damon Che (possibly one of the most underrated drummers?) plays in a style that most d ... (read more)

Report this review (#163788) | Posted by MusicForSpeedin | Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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