The New Teen Dream
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
Once hyped by their label boss Pete Wentz as the baby of Maroon 5 and 'N Sync, the Cab's debut LP, Whisper War, lives up to the band's musical ancestry. It's the fresher, slightly funkier follow-up 'N Sync never made to 2001's Celebrity, packed with almost too-clever lyrics and tight guitar and piano hooks. How did these five 19-year-old guys -- vocalist Alex DeLeon, guitarist Ian Crawford, pianist Alex Marshall, drummer Alex Johnson and bassist Cash Colligan -- graduate to up-and-coming kings of the teen scene?
Their first single ("One of Those Nights") benefited from the added boost of guest vocals by labelmate Panic at the Disco's Brendon Urie and Wentz's partner-in-songwriting crime, Patrick Stump (who also produced some of the album). With such famous friends, they could easily have been written off as Wentz's O-Town, another group of guys from Las Vegas signed in hopes they'd recreate Panic's platinum-selling success. But the band is too talented and sure of their own sound to be written off as carbon copies. (It should go without saying they all play their own instruments, and very well; Crawford's guitar solos in particular stand out.) After a year of nearly nonstop touring, their live show is as solid as their album.
The sound doesn't wander far from its pop progenitors, but the songwriting easily transcends most of their teen peers' efforts. "Vegas Skies" is a heartfelt ballad that never drowns in its own drama, and the melodic "I'll Run" (an early demo that helped the band get signed) is a confident, catchy singalong. Even when they wander into hypothetical maturity -- in "I'm A Wonder" the fine-featured DeLeon demands we "keep the cameras rolling, just in case I don't look this good forever" -- or the ridiculous -- "High Hopes In Velvet Ropes" somehow carries off the couplet "It's only a crime if I get caught / It's only a line if it gets bought" through sheer cheekiness -- they come out the other side intact, cute and charming.
We asked the Cab to write a few short essays, and their answers -- about living out of a van for months on end, soundtracking a gay dance, and favorite pronoun-flipped cover songs -- definitely deserve an A.
Out: What have you learned on tour about the best and worst habits of boys?
Alex DeLeon: I've learned a lot about the habits of guys while being on tour. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Some guys definitely have hygiene issues, and will go way too long without washing their jeans. Ian will wear his jeans for weeks without washing them, until we all literally have to force him throw them in a washer. Some of the good habits are mostly things that have to do with perseverance and strength. It's stressful being on the road and far from friends and family, but a lot of us have the good habits of calling home and keeping in touch extremely often...almost too often. We also take a lot of pictures so we always remember the places we've gone and the people we've met.
Which of your songs should be the theme for a gay prom?
I'm going to have to go with "That 70's Song." It is an ass-shaker and a crowd favorite, and never fails to get the party started. [Watch a live performance here.] If the prom is all about having a good time and letting loose, then there is no doubt that this my pick.
What song written to be sung by a girl do you think should be covered by a guy band?
This morning I heard Cobra Starship's cover of "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry, and it was amazing! I laughed out loud. Their version was called "I Kissed a Boy." [Listen at Popnography.] It sounds great and it is just all around fun. I always wanted a band to cover it, and the Cobra gang definitely did it in the most perfect way possibly. I can't wait to see them perform the cover live if they ever decide to do so!
The Cab's videos and Whisper War (Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance) are available at their official site, and starting in October they'll be on the road as part of the Rock Band Live Tour with Panic at the Disco and Dashboard Confessional.