Reviews

Dru Cutler Bring Closer the Distance

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Submitted by William Elgin

Tampa, Florida native Dru Cutler, now a Brooklyn transplant and a respected member of the Big Apple indie music community, has released a two-song EP sampler previewing his upcoming full-length studio platter Bring Closer the Distance. The two songs, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s lesser known gem “Dance Me to the End of Love” and the original “Oceanside”, are wildly different in some respects. To his credit, Cutler isn’t content with merely aping Cohen’s original as a form of backhanded tribute or whatever else and instead, recasts the song as a whiskey-soaked dancehall number. The rockier strains of “Oceanside” and the personal nature of its lyrical content provide a striking contrast for listeners without ever seeming like an ill-fit. Cutler’s unabashed confidence in tackling material from one of the 20th century’s most respected songwriters gives me kind of a jolt and his willingness to make the tune his own stands in stark difference with his lesser contemporaries who would have pursued the path of least resistance if they bothered to cover the song at all.

Red Black Red Resettlement

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Submitted by Scott Wigley

There’s a lot of fire and fury released over the course of Red Black Red’s debut, Resettlement, but the album’s eight songs are full of intelligence and thoughtfulness as well. The clear strands of alternative rock and electronica coloring the release is masterfully orchestrated from song to song and Enrico Fernando’s songwriting and performances alike can rarely be accused of repeating itself. He gives the audience a different look, virtually every time out on Resettlement without ever stretching too far and overextending listener’s credibility. The lyrical work going into this album is a, perhaps, surprisingly successful component in Resettlement’s mix and the songwriting is often inspired by the immigrant experience in the United States and the challenges many of those individuals and families face in modern America. The treatment, however, is never too ponderous and the production frames Fernando’s message in the polished, professional light.

Union Duke Announce Spring Tour Dates

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

In the summer of 2016, Toronto folk quintet, Union Duke, released their infectious third album, Golden Days. They toured relentlessly around the release and are still showing no signs of slowing down – now announcing a run of Canadian tour dates this spring! Kicking off this Friday (March 2) in Kitchener, ON, the band will head across Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, through March and April (details listed below).

"We're really excited to hit up some of our favorite venues, see a bunch of familiar faces, and explore some new towns and theatres across the West," says Jim McDonald.

Golden Days was released on August 5th, 2016, and is the perfect fit for the heatwave of the dance hall or the cool breeze of the park. The album showcases the band’s signature soulful indie rock sound mixed with bluegrass and country, along with their soaring harmonies with three, four, and even five voices. Recorded live off the floor to capture the raw, joyful energy of their concerts, Golden Days was mixed with Grammy award-winning engineer, Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat, Timbre Timber) to help bring the tracks to life.

Severine Down the Rivers

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Submitted by Raymond Burris

The second single from an untested solo artist is often a proving ground if the performer or band has legs to make it for the long haul. If that assertion harbors any truth, Severine’s future is in excellent hands on the basis of her second single “Down the Rivers”, a stirring successor to her first mass release, “Not Obsessed”. The first single is also the title cut from her soon to be released solo debut. If anyone wonders, however, about how seriously this young songwriter would treat this song in comparison to the first single and title song to her first solo EP, wonder no longer. “Down the Rivers” matches the standard she set with the first single and her chief collaborator, producer Anthony Gallo, understands Severine’s strengths and accentuates them without ever allowing the stitching to show. There’s no wasted motion, as well, with this release and the song breezes confidently past listeners and seems over before you know it even with its nearly three and a half minute running time. “Down the Rivers” gives us a glimpse into her heart and ranks among the year’s best single releases.

Kim DiVine Broken Bird

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Submitted by Larry Toering

Kim DiVine, along with talented producer Klvr Grl, come together on “Broken Bird (Klvr Grl Remix).” This comes after a series of highs and lows that forced her to take a hiatus from music, but not before releasing her latest EP – This Time Around, from which “Broken Bird” is originally featured. Kim DiVine has an extensive background with a lot of her songs being featured in Film and TV. After dealing with personal losses, she’s now back up and running with this incredible Remix.

Without giving away too much about the original album version, it’s best to hear it first in order to appreciate the Klvr Grl Remix, because for the sake of the song it’s great to hear it both ways. The tune itself is beat-driven but also contains a very melancholy vocal, which essentially carries the song all by itself, to begin with. The added bells and whistles of the Remix serve to bring it up a notch in energy, which gives it another reason to enjoy it all-the-more. But you can start with either version to get to the other, as it plays just as well in reverse. Klvr Grl just takes what is already great to another level.

Lowpines In Silver Halides

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Submitted by William Elgin

Lowpines, aka English born producer and songwriter Oil Deakin, doesn’t like to show all of their musical cards at once. The nine songs on Lowpines’ first full-length studio album In Silver Halides build their effects over time rather than exhausting their musical mystery within the first minute or two and the performances develop in such a way that listeners are compelled to pay attention. Deakin’s effort on these songs is further complemented by contributions from his drummer brother, respected producer IggyB (Spirtiualized, The Duke Spirit, John Grant), and flute playing from Jesse Chandler, but the beating heart of In Silver Halides is Oil Deakin and his vivid, highly individualistic songwriting point of view. This is unmistakably his own work and whatever influences exerted their hold over his imagination during the conception and recording of the material is so thoroughly subsumed into Deakin’s writing as to be rendered unrecognizable.

Pale Monsters Are You Feeling Alive?

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Submitted by William Elgin

The Boston quartet Pale Monsters, fronted by guitarist/songwriter Chris Mulvey, is an assemblage of longtime Beantown musicians who’ve struck up an unusually potent chemistry and possess a song-first sensibility that embraces working as a band rather than instrumental spotlights. There’s certainly some relatively tough-minded rock to be heard on Are You Feeling Alive? but there’s tremendous heart underlying these ten songs that come through in sometimes delightfully unexpected ways. These veteran musicians are coming together in a way that belies their years playing for the public – instead, there’s the same sort energy present in this recording we’re accustomed to hearing from young musicians recording for the first time and it’s wonderfully balanced with the seasoned results that only longtime top-notch writers and musicians can muster. Pale Monsters’ Are You Feeling Alive? crackles with depth and rowdy rock and roll spirit.

Dulcie Taylor Releases Better Part of Me

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Black Iris Records, a joint venture with Mesa Bluemoon Recordings have announced a March 9 release date for Better Part of Me, the new album of songs from acclaimed singer/songwriter Dulcie Taylor. The label will release “Halfway to Jesus,” the first single off the new album.

The title of the first single has special meaning to Dulcie Taylor, as she reflected on it recently.
“Our planet is suffering from ravaging climate change that has brought on catastrophic storms, commonly called ‘1,000-year storms,’ indicating how rare they should be. We must take action to save our planet.”

Better Part of Me was recorded at Laurel Lane Studio and produced by Dulcie Taylor (lead vocals, background vocals, acoustic guitar, dulcimer and tambourine); George Nauful (acoustic and electric guitars, acoustic piano, bass, background vocals, lead vocals and percussion); and Damon Castillo (electric guitar, bass, background vocals, and drum programming). Joining for the recording sessions were Abraham Robles (drums, Cajon, percussion); Kristian Ducharme (B3 organ, Wurlitzer piano and acoustic piano); Dillon Johnson (upright bass); Tracy Morgan (drums, Cajon); Cameron West (bass and drums); Joey Landreth (acoustic and electric slide guitar); Dominic Castillo (electric slide guitar); Erin Snedecor and Bob Liepman (cello); Pete Whitfield (string orchestration); Valerie Johnson (background vocals); and Tyson Leonard (drum program and mandolin).

The Plot In You Reveal Disposable Fix

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo Credit Ashley Osborn

Universal Dice birth, love, hate, death

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Submitted by Lance Wright

The rock opera opus from Universal Dice entitled birth, love, hate, death marks the creative high point for writer/musician/activist Gerry Dantone and his pet project. Universal Dice makes great use of some of the best East Coast-based session players available but, despite Dantone’s primacy as the project’s creative leader, Universal Dice has a stable cast of collaborators and comes across as a real band with the sort of chemistry we hope for from such configurations. The sixteen songs included on the release makes up a compelling whole and tells a story through the voices of its characters, but the songs likewise stand well on their own, boast considerable commercial appeal, and carries on in an identifiable tradition that has many admirers. Universal Dice’s birth, love, hate, death is unique music guaranteed to make its listeners think and feel in equal measure.

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