Bill Cutler — Crossing the Line
(Magnatude MTX-2316-2, 2008, CD)
by Alan K. Lipton, Published 2011-06-01
Bill Cutler arrived in San Francisco in 1970, spent the following decades producing other people’s records, and on his first album channels all those influences and experiences. His guitar and high tenor anchor these self-penned, intelligent rock ’n’ roll songs, covering the range of styles you’d expect from a musician who came of age in the 60s and 70s. The strong Grateful Dead influence on country rockers “Burning the Candle,” “Ballad of Bras Coupe,” and “Rockingham Mill” is boosted by contributions from Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Mark Karan. The huge cast of Bay Area session players also includes Jorma Kaukonen, Chris Solberg, and Matthew Kelly. There’s a classic rock feel to the crisp tempos, roadhouse piano, enveloping Hammond organ, punchy harmonica and righteous background singers, but then along comes “Boy with a Future” and the title track. These songs, respectively about doomed romance and America’s culture collapse in the 90s, are textbook new wave guitar pop, heroic rock ’n’ roll minimalism, and drumhead-tight songcraft. Listen to the whole CD through that filter and you’ll hear the work of someone who really knows his hooks. And since it’s a producer’s album, every note is in its place and every instrument’s tone is pure. It’s great to hear Garcia’s unmistakable solos in this context, especially on the warm, extended, two-chord jam ending “Delta Nightingale” and, weirdly, on “Starlite Jamboree,” which is Bill’s eulogy for Jerry. This is the advantage to developing an album’s worth of tracks over about 20 years!
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more
Various Artists - Psychedelic Phinland: Finnish Hippie & Underground Music 1967-1974 – This archival collection presents the music of 24 Finnish bands, most unknown to Western ears. Disc One contains 19 psychedelic/progressive rock songs and Disc Two contains ten experimental/avant... (2008) » Read more