Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reviews:: Cuff the Duke Sidelines of the City

Low Profile had a classic hip hop track called Pay Ya Dues. A concept so simple, but in today's myspace infused world, it's something that no longer becomes a necessity. As a result, bands can put out a few songs and make a name for themselves without ever leaving the comforts of their own town. While this helps DIY music, it also takes away from the maturation process of a band and in reality, that maturation is essential to forge a lasting career and develop your sound.

One band that has taken the time to form their sound and grow is Cuff the Duke. The band has traveled as a band and as Hayden's backing band, involved themselves in countless side projects (the
Hylozoists being the one that will probably grab you ear), and perfecting their live show. It's all of these experiences that helped Cuff the Duke create such a cohesive, fantastic record.

While their first two records were country-fused tracks the common man could relate to, Sidelines of the City is a record almost anyone can enjoy. Remarkably, even with the new styles the band embraced, I can't imagine any existing fan would ever complain. The first big switch is the album is way more rock-centric, but this is all accomplished with less guitar.

Wayne relies heavily on his acoustic this time around, and it adds a catchiness to the record you wouldn't expect, but the band also dives deeper into the country sound by using some lap steel. The Ballad of a Tired Old Man could easily show up on a Calexico or Richmond Fontaine record and the long bended notes they add to the folky When All Else Fails and Fades sound great.

But the record really pushes the band into a more uptempo, energetic place. Long Road is an anthem as Canadian as poutine and toques. It's a windows down rocker, but the band shows patience, using a slow crescendo to keep the song pushing forward. By Winter's End showcases duel vocals, harmonies and a nice Young inspired guitar riff when the amps get cranked up. Unlike a lot of bands that try to force the issue, Cuff the Duke exhibits a quiet calm over each song. The notes never seem forced, the vocals never falter. They may have jumped past the quiet, introspective narratives we are all so used to, but the progression seems completely natural.

Honestly, I think that is helped by the tight relationship the band has with the producer, Paul Aucoin. Paul and Paul Lowman have an existing relationship with the Hylozoists and you can only imagine them tinkering with these songs on the road. Even more importantly, Aucoin knows what the band wants to sound like as as a result, he manages to get everything out of the band. He plays up their strengths - steady bass lines, guitar flourishes and letting Wayne deliver his vocals in a much more controlled manner - without taking the grit out of the sound. I'm not sure people could have thought the band could pen a Tom Petty-ish radio ready rocker like Remember those Good Times, but the song shimmers. So does the hometown anthem, Rossland Square.

Cuff the Duke is on the cusp of becoming another staple in Canadian music. Right now we have two distinct styles that are making waves: Quirky pop and Canadiana music that could travel the country just like the band playing it. Cuff the Duke is firmly planted in the latter camp, and after this record gets heard that road trip could be a great one.
MP3:: If I Live or If I Die

They are playing with Land of Talk on Nov. 14th @ Richard's on Richards.

web site :: myspace

Posted at 4:13 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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