We keep learning weird things about Cave In, whose transmogrification from advanced-placement hardcore club to secret-frequency art-metal conspiracy to interstellar emo-doom-prog choir has kept them at rock’s front lines for four years running. So it’s probably best to get this out now, before their eagerly awaited RCA debut hits the streets: Cave In took their name from a Codeine song. (Christopher Brokaw, your copyright attorney is on line one.) No kidding: the most pulverizing band in town were named for a track by the city’s all-time slowest. In fact, instead of resting up for their make-or-break year, Cave In checked into the Fenway’s New Alliance Studios a couple of weeks ago to record Codeine’s "Cave In," just as advance copies of their RCA album, Antenna, were finding their way into our grubby little paws.
So: is Antenna a masterpiece? Did they sell out? We’re not telling . . . yet. Why? Just because we enjoy torturing you. And also because we haven’t made up our mind. We will reveal the following: the album, produced by Audioslave engineer Rich Costey at Hollywood’s Cello Studios, includes nothing off Cave In’s most recent EP, Tides of Tomorrow, though it does include versions of three songs the band released on singles and promos last year: "Lost in the Air," "Stained Silver," and "Rubber and Glue" (the latter, in substantially different form, was titled "Bigger Riff"). More important, Antenna includes the two cuts that have become standouts in the band’s live sets over the past year and a half: "Inspire," the track most likely to be mistaken for a Led Zeppelin song; and "Woodwork," their saddest anthem ever. Also included: their Neutral Milk Hotel–like tribute to Kurt Cobain, "Beautiful Son."
A month after the March release of Antenna, RCA will also issue From the Attic, the major-label debut of Waltham’s Damone. In case you don’t remember the story, the band were known, in a slightly different incarnation, as Noelle (after their then-15-year-old singer/guitarist, Noelle LeBlanc), and in 2001 they self-released a fantastic disc of basement recordings titled This Summer. The album sparked a ridiculous major-label bidding war; RCA won, and From the Attic is essentially a re-release of This Summer. (Since then, Dave Pino — best known as the songwriter and guitarist in Waltham, the band, and also the author of all Damone’s songs — has joined on guitar, and the original album’s producer, who played most of the instruments on the disc, is out of the picture.) The RCA album includes four newly recorded songs; the remaining tracks were tweaked with a few overdubs and then remixed by superstar engineer Tom Lord Alge. The remix buries the keyboards, thereby erasing any trace of the original’s Cars-like new-wave charm. But the new songs are as good or better than anything on the original, including "Feel Bad Vibe" and "Driveway Blues," for our money a better pair of Weezer songs than "Hash Pipe" and "Gone Fishing."
Former Letters to Cleo/Veruca Salt drummer Stacy Jones’s Foo Fighters–esque modern-rock outfit American Hi-Fi will attempt to prove they weren’t just last year’s flavor of the week with the release of their sophomore effort, The Art of Losing (Island/Def Jam), on February 25. Rumble-winning singer-songwriter Bleu is getting his eggs in line for the March release of his major-label debut, Redhead. The disc is being issued by Columbia/Aware, the label that had success last year with Dave Matthews–esque singer-songwriter John Mayer; Mayer’s managers are also co-managing Bleu. Redhead hits shelves in March. The Magnetic Fields side project Future Bible Heroes, featuring ManRay DJ Chris Ewen, releases The Lonely Robot (Instinct) on January 21; the EP includes a few remixes of tunes from last year’s Eternal Youth (by Soft Cell, among others), plus two new songs, including the title track. And Jack Dragonetti’s production of the new Francine album, 28 Plastic Blue Versions of Endings Without You (Q Division), added enough electronic embellishment that the band went out and hired a full-time keyboardist. Look for the disc, on which the band trade their sturdy Pavementisms for a populist experimentalism reminiscent of Helium’s The Dirt of Luck and Beck’s Mutations, in February.
The first months of 2003 will also see indie releases by a bunch of old Boston favorites. The Robin Lane and the Chartbusters reunion yields the group’s first new album in 20 years, Piece of Mind (Windjam); it’ll have a CD-release party at the Middle East on February 15. On February 18, Rykodisc issues a single-disc The Best of Morphine, 1992-1995 collection, a survey of the group’s pre-DreamWorks output plus two outtakes from the DreamWorks years. Also in February, Quintaine Americana release their long-delayed, Supersuckers-strength Dark Thirty (Curve of the Earth), which was recorded by Godsmack producer Mudrock and Blue Man Group producer Andrew Schneider. Before that, Schneider’s post-Barbaro group Placer celebrate the release of a new disc at the Middle East on January 25.