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Friday, 16 November 2012

Record Review - The Cubical

Arise Conglomerate

Halfpenny CD

Despite this being their third outing, I'm somewhat ashamed to say that The Cubical is a completely new name to me. But on the evidence of this it is also one which I'll be taking note of in future.

They're a group who are taking particularly engaging strides within their chosen medium, and bring with them a whole, if not new, then it's certainly a quite different slant to what most of us think we know already; for all intents and purposes, it's the blues really. But not for The Cubical the relatively safe road of the trusty twelve-bar turnaround, or the White Stripes and for that matter Black Keys minimalism, or the overly polished style of a 'Later with Jools' rootsy ensemble that the blues is much associated with today; vis a vis also what R&B now represents.

I especially love all the individual sounds that have been created here: the vibrancy of the guitar tracks, the drums too are just how I like to hear them, open, rolling and with great natural resonance, their driver capable of coaxing the best from the kit.

In Dan Wilson, The Cubical also have a very strong vocal presence, and some (most even?) will immediately begin to compare him with such names as the late great Don Van Vliet, alias legendary weird-oh Captain Beefheart. Others may suggest a very young Tom Waits, or perhaps even Nick Cave? While that's maybe not too far off the mark at times, given the lead growl Wilson has been gifted with, there's also a little of the early Magic Band (Cptn B's musical compatriots) style beat-blues approach on certain numbers. Examples of may include the bouncy soul-fired opener 'On The Weekend', the more garagey pop sounding '123 Girl' and also the excellently placed, thoroughly cutting 'Moron Culture'. However, there's also enough of the group's own merit, grit and glue - in the above-mentioned titles and elsewhere - so as not to tie them down too much to what would be an all-too obvious source of inspiration.

Here and there they offer the odd, more melodious sentiment, and slow, mournful, almost dirge-like passages too that at times can almost lull the listener into a kind of false sense of security. But you have to beware as this Liverpool lot can just as quickly turn on a sixpence and their sharp teeth noise can bite pretty hard.

Lenny Helsing

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