Music You Should Know: Cab Ellis’ “The East Coast Hold On” Puts a Pep in Your Step, Intoxicating With a Sense of New York Wonder

Cab Ellis © 2022
Cab Ellis © 2022
Living and breathing with big swells and impeccable instrumentation, “The East Coast Hold On” is pleasantly hard to pin down; the song, as well as well as the band Cab Ellis, give us a sound we haven’t heard before.
Stream: “The East Coast Hold On” – Cab Ellis

Cab Ellis is an underground breath of fresh air, both in sound and style.

They don’t fit in any traditional box, rather, they’ve built their own box. Frontman, Connor Abeles, originally from Maryland, made the cross-country leap to LA after school at Emerson College. There, he met Matt Richards, a student at USC and future collaborator; before long, the inception of Cab Ellis was born.

After building an audience in LA, Cab Ellis left the sunshine, en route back to the East Coast – this time to New York City; they missed the energy; they wanted to join the greats who came before them, write their own story among the lights of New York. That’s where “The East Coast Hold On” comes into play.

The East Coast Hold On - Cab Ellis
The East Coast Hold On – Cab Ellis

The lead single from their 2022 album of the same name tells a clever story that just feels undeniably good. I stumbled upon it recently and had one of those euphoric experiences, where everything just worked.

The song starts with thumpy muted piano chords and a simple hip-hop beat on real drums. Then comes the captivating vocals of Connor Abeles. In a rap-like rhythm, with an ode to his foundation as a rapper, Abeles spits the opening line, “Over on the east coast a spirit moved my legs in a different way… it was good for me, I never have been the same.”

This is a feeling that most of us transplant artists can attest to. New York goes from being a place in your imagination to your home in an instant, and it’s survival of the fittest; keep up or get the f**k out!

The record moves along with a hook that keeps you present. “So c’mon!” repeats every few bars; it’s like the city reminding you to keep going. And, there are elements of every genre in this four-minute masterpiece. Upon listening, I imagine myself walking down the Bowery and hearing rock n’ roll coming out of Bowery Electric, only to have that taken over by a jazz saxophone making its way up the subway grate.

On the next block, I hear a rapper with no shirt, a collar around his neck and paint on his face, giving a fire freestyle to a small crowd gathered around him; they shout, “SO YOU DON’T KNOW HOW THE HANDSHAKE GO, IT GO EAST COAST HOLD ON THE WEST COAST LET GO, C’MON!

It’s all there for Cab Ellis in this song. The musicianship lives and breathes with big swells and impeccable instrumentation; the creativity is evident in Connor Abeles’ catchy delivery, and the lyrics are aspirational and heartfelt. It’s the type of song that could go on for 9 minutes, with 5 verses and 8 choruses, and you wouldn’t be mad because there are rushes of serotonin sprinkled throughout.

Cab Ellis © 2022
Cab Ellis © 2022

And, as good as this record is on the radio edit, nothing compares to seeing it live. Watching Abeles lose his mind on the stage, somersaulting into the crowd, while Greg Carleton rips a sax solo, and Franco Vittore and Devlin Tenney take turns licking up the guitar is an experience that I’ll remember and cherish forever. There is also something so special about being able to participate with the band’s performance by yelling back the chorus as you jump around with the rest of the downtown twentysomethings. It makes you excited about life and in turn, you want to root for the boys of Cab Ellis. “There’s only 40,000 people in my hometown, one day I wanna play a stadium to that amount.” Connor shouts into the mic, and I believe him. I’m going to blink and suddenly, they’ll be doing it.

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:: stream/purchase The East Coast Hold On here ::
:: connect with Cab Ellis here ::
Stream: “The East Coast Hold On” – Cab Ellis

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The East Coast Hold On - Cab Ellis

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