Banfield Takes the Lead?
When we first heard Don Caballero we all thought it was pretty amazing, even if you weren't necessarily hip to it you were able at least to be amazed by it. By '95-'97 they had a major hand in popularizing 'math-rock' and introducing the genre's unconventional elements to a broader audience. So much so that today I'd estimate having heard maybe 4 billion or so Don Cab rip-off bands. And although I believe the American Don to be the band's masterpiece, it was the prior records Don Cab 2 and What Burns that were the real ambassadors to the music world. At this time, the lineup was Ian Williams and Mike Banfield on guitar, Eric Emm on bass, and Damon Che on drums. It's interesting to see where each of these four, as a sort of revolutionary coalition, headed after the band's ugly collapse in 2000.
Che went on to Bellini, where he continued to compete against the music with his unnecessary, flashy, self-involved drumming. Despite Che, Bellini was still mildly tolerable, Speaking Canaries not so much, but it was the gross concoction of Non Caballero's World Class Listening Problem in 2006, that solidifies Che's place at the bottom of our tournament bracket. Emm, now mostly does production work but gets accolades for his involvement with the venerable Storm & Stress (listen here), which released two records on Touch & Go and pushed beyond the new frontiers Don Cab had helped colonize. The real force behind S&S, however, was Ian Williams, whose post Caballero resume is by far the strongest of the three. After the follow-up Under the Fluorescent Lights (listen here), seemed to indicate the band had achieved all it could, Williams wisely called an end to Storm and Stress, and upped the ante again as co-author to a series of superb EP's with supergroup Battles. In 2007 Battles switched gears and released its first full-length, Mirrored, which is a whole separate can of worms we won't discuss here. But regardless of your feelings on Mirrored, it is clear Williams chooses to consistently move forward in his career rather than remain stagnant and you can't argue with the logic in that. But if you believe Mirrored is in fact a stumble, as I do, then you should know that the time is ripe for a rally.
2008 has plans to be the year the long-silent Mike Banfield returns to music with his new project, Knot Feeder. Based out of Pittsburgh, Banfields crew includes an Andy Curl on bass, Andrew Grossmann and Rob Spagiare of Tabula Rasa, with the possible opening for a vocalist (though I'm praying they opt to remain instrumental). They've begun recording tracks for a debut using material with some two years of reworking. Not to jump the gun or anything, but listen to these three tracks available for streaming here, and then try convincing me this isn't going to be in the runnings for our best record of 2008.