Cage the Elephant, ‘Thank You Happy Birthday’ (Jive)
Openly emulating Black Francis, Gordon Gano, and the dude from Cake, frontman Matt Shultz spends the second album by his Kentucky band spewing street-corner inanities over aggro-funk clatter. Sounds terrible, yet these guys attack tracks like “Sell Yourself” with so much pent-up energy that Shultz ends up selling his crackpot ideas. (Maybe the TV is just a box of lies!) No less important, they’ve got hooks: “Right Before My Eyes” feels like the kind of fuzzy, poppy alt-rock radio hit alt-rockers just don’t make anymore.