Cuff the Duke – Life Stories For Minimum Wage

Oshawa’s finest! They had to compete with teams of Caterpillars tearing down thousands of trees to make room for more cheap subdevelopments. Probably Whitby’s finest as well. And Ajax. And Bowmanville. And Pickering. God I hate the Eastern GTA. It’s a bunch of awful suburban towns along Lake Ontario that contribute NOTHING to the world except commuters and low-priced homes and vast, vast amounts of BORING. I know these guys are all proud of Oshawa and all, but I’ve spent some time there with an outsider’s perspective, having dated someone who lived there for a year and a half, and it’s a BALLSACK. My greatest memories of the town itself are a fun bar (The Velvet Elvis) that’s now closed, getting yelled at by a farmer for sitting on the hood of an abandoned truck, and finding used condoms in a children’s playground. The South Side is covered in graffiti. There’s one mall to rule them all. The main industry is a GM plant that’s perpetually on the brink of closing thanks to our wonderful economy. UGH.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there’s a lot of country music coming from said lovely place, nor to learn that there are a lot of disaffected youth, so C the D’s indie-country is appropriate, authentic, and excellent, complete with an amusing, bitter album title!

What does indie-country mean? It means it sounds like they’re children of the 80s, with all the ironic sentiment that usually entails, and come from a small, hickish town (that probably gave them a legit love of old country stars), with all the slide guitars and rockabilly rhythms that usually entails, but without the feeling that they think liberals are demons. A pretty likable combo, especially when the ‘country’ part is way far from Nashville whine-ass country patriotic crap.

“Teh” problem I “has” “wif” this album, as I do with so many others, is that some of the songs are so clearly better than others. I mean, at some point someone must have said “hey, Cuff, we all that ‘Blackheart’ is a better song than ‘Long Winter,’ right?” And Cuff’d say “Of course” and someone would have said “okay, good, just checking,” and then they’d go on with their group masturbation sessions that always end in a great acrid belching of tears and piss and cum. Of course, like with any good band, their tears and piss and cum would all smell like lilacs and honey.

To wit: “The Difference Between Us” “literally” announces “I suck!” with it’s opening line. And then there’s nothing going on musically except way too many high notes. Blech! Secondly, “Long Winter” doesn’t even pretend it’s any good!

Then there are three songs that aren’t actively bad, but they’re just kinda boring. Two of them are “weird,” (quote mine, to nobody in particular) but nothing other than that one points out a great national shame, and one is the last song and way too long.

But let’s get to the good stuff! “Hey Baby” and “Lonely Path” are similar, and similarly excellent anti-love rockabilly songs. The former contains the line “Whatever is was / Came out of the sky / Took my wife away / So I’m a happy guy / Baby you were never really good to me,” while the latter contains a memorably offhand reference to cocaine and a catchy harmonica solo. They’re both all good and stuff!  Then “Anti-Social” is a Catchy (dig those drum fills!), lyrically ambivalent song on anti-sociability with occasionally cheesy lyrics (oh, opening couplet), but really sunk by the poor recording quality. In need of a remake, not that that would ever happen in this modern world. Lastly, “Ballad of a Lonely Construction Worker” is ten shades of awesome, far too good for anything in this world. It’s a gambit at roaring pathos that works completely! Oh, I needn’t describe it in detail, but the details! The false beginning-end! The subtlety of the solo! The adorable coda! Oh, how it does remind me of my friend Alex in summers past. It should remind you of your Alexes as well.

I like “Blackheart” too.

I like jerk sauce too. I won’t say “jerk chicken” because I am a strict vegetarian, and have been for many years, but they’ve made wonderful advancements in fake meat technology. Also, if you eat meat you’re probably an asshole. What’s your fucking argument, aside from hedonism or Randroidism, which makes you an asshole? But seriously, who would think to put these ingredients together? Soy sauce, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, thyme, the world’s tenth hottest pepper, and about ten other things? What the eff? But it’s so spicy and wonderful! Oh, I just can’t wait until tomorrow night when I get to eat lots of it on everything I hold dear.

I give this album a seven! You might think that’s too high for an album where I only like half the songs, but I always consider it like this: if, hypothetically, I had some sort of website where I gave albums rankings, what would I give it? And my reaction is “seven.” The songs I like on here I really like. See the rest of their career for a fun continuation of this pattern. I’ll drink to that (alone in my darkened apartment)!



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