Cage the Elephant
By cannily synthesizing many of the sonic signifiers of ’90s and Y2K alternative rock, Cage the Elephant became one of the biggest rock bands of the 2010s. The natives of Bowling Green, Kentucky didn’t get any traction in their career until they relocated to London, England just before the 2008 release of their eponymous debut, but being Americans in the U.K. did help give the group a media boost, which resulted in the transatlantic hit “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” a clever pop tune that sounded like a hybrid between the White Stripes and Beck. Ten years later, Cage the Elephant would wind up having Beck guest on their 2019 album Social Cues, an indication of how successful the previous decade was for them. During that time, the group became a reliable fixture on American modern rock radio, with two albums — 2011’s Thank You Happy Birthday and 2013’s Melophobia — going gold, while their Dan Auerbach-produced Tell Me I’m Pretty took home the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2017, all proof that the band were one of the rare successful mainstream rock groups of their time.
Formed by Matt Shultz, Brad Shultz, Jared Champion, Lincoln Parish, and Daniel Tichenor, the group signed with Relentless and released the “Free Love” single late in 2007. A support slot for the Pigeon Detectives beckoned in early 2008, and follow-up single “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” reached the Top 40 in June. The group’s self-titled debut followed soon after, becoming a respectable commercial and critical success.
Two years later the band returned with the single “Shake Me Down,” while early 2011 saw the release of second album Thank You Happy Birthday, which debuted at number two on the album charts. In early 2012, the band released the live audio/video package Live from the Vic in Chicago, which captured performances from their sold-out two-night run at the famous Chicago venue. Returning to the studio, the band recorded its third album, Melophobia. Released in October 2013, the album saw Cage collaborating with Alison Mosshart (the Kills, the Dead Weather) and featured the modern rock radio hit “Come a Little Closer.” During the Melophobia era, Cage the Elephant parted ways with their founding guitarist, Lincoln Parish, who became a producer for other artists in Nashville.
In late 2015, the band released its fourth album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, which was produced by the Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach. The ensemble embarked on both nationwide and European tours in promotion of the record throughout 2016 to rapturous success; the album would later win the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2017. Cage the Elephant continued performing throughout early 2017 with a series of intimate, stripped-down, unplugged shows around the States that spanned their entire back catalog. The performances were captured and chronicled in their second live release, Unpeeled, which arrived in the early summer of 2017.
Cage the Elephant returned in 2019 with Social Cues, which was heavily influenced by Matt Shultz‘s divorce. Exploring dark emotions, the album was produced by John Hill and included the single “Ready to Let Go” along with “Night Running,” featuring Beck. At the end of the year, Hill received a Grammy nomination for his work on the album and Social Cues was nominated for Best Rock Album.