The Cuts are a ghost of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with music that would have easily charted on Billboard back in the day. Since they are actually part of our present in the new millennium, the way The Cuts crank out garage pop and sappy, post-hippy ballads, they are instead highly regarded among the indie underground psych and retro fanatics.
Born out of a pot-smoke haze in (the ‘cuts’ of) Oakland, CA, the five-piece saunters on stage either skeletal or oafish, all clad in denim corduroy and leather and unleash a swirling, stripped down, driving rock force. Dual guitars drive with ancient-sounding keys atop a perfected synchronized rhythm section.
Cuts songs tend to revolve around girls, girls’ shoes, girl’s favorite beverages and girls being annoying and stupid. Andy Jordan (guitar and vocals) tag teams with Dan Aa (Keyboards and vocals) for the lead singer position. The retro flashbacks come about as Jordan channels Tom Verlain of Television and Aa reminds us of Burton Cummings of The Guess Who. This odd pair is, well, a bit odd. It’s as if there are two bands playing one album (or one show).
At the release party for From Here On Out in San Francisco, there appeared to be a bit of tension between the two singers. Performing without a PA, the band couldn’t gauge the sound from the stage; and while Jordan clearly presumed that the speakers their mics were connected to were working (which they were), Aa diligently tried to amplify his vocals to the point where the crowd was nearly crying in pain. Aa seemed frustrated; Jordan seemed quietly entertained; and the tension between the two seemed icy.
From Here On Out displays the same odd dichotomy, but sans any tension. Being the band’s third release, there is a certain maturity achieved with this LP, including a remarkable vocal ability in Aa that makes us wonder if he’s been in vocal training. Stunning stuff. Jordan puts a more subtle perfection on his own vocals, which were fine-tuned in rough-ness from the band’s beginning.
The fun in seeing The Cuts comes from their tendency for disarray and their terminally nonchalant approach. They almost always sound great, if nothing else because raw, garage-iness is part of their appeal. If you weren’t able to catch any of their gigs at this year’s SXSW, keep an eye out for their future tour plans that could bring them to Denver.