In telling a parched, blood-curdling tale, Cable’s The Failed Convict winds up being a record that reveals more with each subsequent listen. It’s a concept album, telling the story of convict Jim and his escape from a mountain jail. Heading to California, Jim begins a quest to get things back to normal – what “normal” means for a bugger like Jim is hard to say, of course.
The Connecticut rockers have gone through line-up changes and life changes over the past while, almost seeing the dream die more than once. With their first disc since 2004’s Pigs Never Fly, it seems that Cable’s back in a big way.
The Failed Convict works because it dares to be expansive. Cable tells a story that stretches itself out over 13 crusty, dusty, bloody tracks, never relenting in unfurling its ultimate purpose until Jim gets to where he needs to be. It’s the band’s ability to tell the tale that keeps the project engaging.
Vocalist Peter Farris is absolutely enthralling as Cable’s frontman. His vocals are tremendous, infused with rich anger and angst. He embodies the character of Jim, ripping notes off like shotgun blasts infused with a blend of sharp noise, a carton of cigarettes and strong whiskey.
“Jim’s Dream” starts the album up with one hell of a driving, menacing tone. There’s an eerie quality to the way the band pulls the song into existence and the opening crash of guitar and sound is as violent as it is beautiful. When Farris introduces his anger to the song, it’s mind-blowingly sick. Listening to him snarl “I’m heading out West” is fucking frightening.
Much of The Failed Convict matches the subject, brimming with burly drunken ramblings and shots of nefarious, off-kilter music from guitarists Bernie Romanowski and Chris Fischkelta. Bassist Randy Larsen and drummer Vic Szalaj inhabit the lower end, thickening things up with some nice tasty sludge.
Like a desperate chase through a mountain pass, “Gulf of Texaco” throbs with relentless fury and leads right off the ditch into the slow and desolate “Welcome to Dickson” without pausing for a breath.
Cable keeps things moving throughout all 13 tracks because they know how this shit’s supposed to work. There are no shallow diatribes, no wasted movements and no keyed-up pretentious passages. The Failed Convict is a storytelling album, standing apart as a bold, bluesy and fucking LOUD entry in the catalogue of a band that really ought to stick around this time.