I had heard so much about the Leftover Cuties from our new writer, Ohio; but never actually listened to the spectacular quintet. I met (wildly gorgeous) lead singer Shirli McAllen briefly duringa mixer for the upcoming Sunset Junction 2011, at which her and the rest of the band will be performing, and I knew we had a gem on our hands.
While watching a quick set at the El Cid, my first impressions of the band were that of a California\Hawaii jazz group from the 40’s (if there are any?). Throw in Shirli’s mysterious accent to her Billie-Holiday-like powers, and you have some very powerful brewing in new millennium music.
If you watch The Big C, the intro song Game Called Life is a Leftover Cuties contribution; a contribution which garnered a near exponential increase in their fan base almost overnight. Now, the band has released their first LP titled Places to Go; produced by Tony Berg (Peter Gabriel, Pete Yorn, Jesca Hoop). I promise after just one listen you’ll come back for this near-forgotten sound in an age of music that won’t bat an eyelash unless you’re using auto-tune or screaming.
My first favorite track on the album is the titled track Places to Go. Following the umbrella theme of love, Shirli sings about someone she loves who just won’t give her the time of day; all this of course to a groovy dance tempo, and a funky keyboard selection. This may be the most fun track on the album, with band cofounder Austin Nicholson happily strumming away on the ukulele.
Second follows right after with the 4th track, I Would. The horns by Mike Bolger throughout the song reminded me a bit of Chicago mega band Anathallo, with mellow notes dragging with the tempo. A true rainy day ambient song, I felt it a song of frustration and helplessness, but still a beautiful composition that still warmed the heart. Bassist Ryan Feves is just too good. Some of you know bass is my favorite instrument, and his chops on the standup are truly inspiring.
My overall favorite however is the 6th track, Everything I Got. Stuart Johnson gives a roll throughout that reminds me both of French and Moroccan music. You can tell his equipment is quite varied all over the album; a surgeon to the particular needs of each song. The song painted a picture of a cat and mouse game, Shirli traveling in a foreign land/situation, with the accordion bringing a welcome sex appeal to couple with her voice.
It’s so strange, yet welcome to hear a band like this in modern times. If the production quality wasn’t so damn good, I’d say this came out decades ago, but the album is available now, and you can even stream the whole album for free on their website. Go check it out and get yourself some Cuties!
Until next time my friends,