Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cuff The Duke: "Union" (album review)

Cuff The Duke has been churning out reliable quality rock for over a decade.  They've cemented themselves a reputation as one of those bands that it's nearly impossible to dislike.

Their latest album, Union, puts the final touches on a trilogy of records.

There are many vintage Cuff The Duke moments on Union.  "Side By Side" is a classic unhurried roots rock number with a smooth melodic chorus.  The catchy "Stay" is cut from a similar cloth.

The band manage to lose themselves in the moment from time-to-time.  "Open Your Mind" is a sprawling ambient rock opus that gets stretched out, but doesn't overstay its welcome.  The country-tinged "Where Did We Go Wrong" ends with the quartet kicking up an instrumental dust storm.

It the roots music that's at the core of Cuff The Duke though.  Whether it's rock-based like "Carry On", or more of a pop harmony like "Something For Free", it's an every-so-slightly twangy sound that has become synonymous with Toronto roots bands, beginning in the early days of Blue Rodeo.  What sets Cuff The Duke apart is a song craftsmanship and attention to detail that many others lack.

The album's standout is its penultimate track "Rise Above".  It's the lone pure rocker on the record, and will make you want to kick things as you rock out.

It's so routine at this point that we're all in danger of taking for granted that Cuff The Duke will give us an album that we'll love.  Maybe they should make something that sucks to remind us all of how good they actually are.

Cuff The Duke play the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto on November 24th with Jenn Grant.

Best tracks: "Rise Above", "Side By Side"

Track listing for Union:
  • Live My Life
  • Side By Side
  • Where Did We Go Wrong
  • Open Your Mind
  • Stay
  • Carry On
  • Something For Free
  • All I Want
  • Rise Above
  • Night After Night

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