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November Pick of the Month
Cush e. p.
Artist: Cush
Label: Northern Records
Length: 8 tracks, 26:00

"The Super-Band Cush" is back with a limited-edition concept EP about the life and career of Michael Knott. Knott himself has left the group, taking with him the dreamy pop sound found on their debut, New Sound. In his place are a variety of vocalists, most notably The Violet Burning’s Michael J. Pritzl and newcomer Scott Malone, who, along with the rest of the band, have switched to a 1970s garage band/punk sound, reminiscent of ? and the Mysterions or the Sex Pistols. 

Obviously, this switch was entirely unexpected, and this EP is considerably less accessible than the band’s debut. It’s considerably less poetic, as well, proven by "Rev it Up," which ends with one of the vocalists (it’s hard to tell them apart at times) screaming "Jesus! / Save our souls! / Jesus! / Rock and roll!" This isn’t a bad thing, by the way—this type of music was never meant to be poetic, and this record is nothing if not energetic. Fans of New Sound may not appreciate it at first, but keep an open mind, and you might enjoy the new EP more than you thought. Followers of the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and Elvis Costello are advised to check it out, as well. 

Michial Farmer 10/14/2001

Last year's debut album from Cush proved to be one of the best albums of the year, bringing together a boatload of talent to produce a dreamy, trippy disc.  Well this year, the band is back with a whole new sound.  Previously available only to those who attended Cornerstone, the limited edition Cush e.p. will soon be available to those of who couldn't make it to Bushnell.

This time around, Cush serves up a louder, rockier, more uptempo disc, rooted heavily in 70s punk and 80s new wave.  And while it sounds like an entirely different band, the core is still here, featuring Eric Campuzano, Wayne Everett, Frank Lenz, and Andy Prickett.  Gone are Mike Knott's vocals, but sharing the microphones are Everett, Scott Mallone (Lenen), Michael Pritzl (The Violet Burning), and Travis. 

From the noisy opening track "Halo Sounds" through the rambunctious "Rev it Up," to the more melodic "The Brightest Light" (can anyone say Modern English?), this album is just pure fun.  And be careful if you try to look too deeply into the lyrics.  I hear the words, I read the words, but I'll be durned if I can tell what the heck they're talking about most of the time. But they are fun just the same.  Some of the lyrics seem like pure nonsense ("Rabbits run where furs become the beating of hearts"), but there are a few more poignant and spiritual moments.  And all in all, this is a good disc that is much too short.  It's a good thing the band is already working on its next full-length.

Ken Mueller
10/9/01

If you came of age in the late 80's/early 90's as I did, you will think Cush's EP is an undiscovered gem from that era.   There are eight songs here that evoke memories of Echo & the Bunnymen, Love and Rockets, the 77s, the Ramones, and Steve Taylor.

"Rev it Up" is an alternative song mixed with British punk with a dash of The Doors woven throughout.  "Blessed to Kill" plows straight ahead, then references the Ramones by inserting "gabba gabba hey" into the chorus!  "Sailing Sounds" is a pop song that uses Beatle-like transitions from verse to chorus.  80's alternative mixed with Steppenwolf guitar is the only way I can describe "A Rock and Roll King". 

"The Brightest Light" features vocals that recall Ian McCulloch's best work in Echo & The Bunnymen.  Fantastic guitar work prevails through the entire project.  I don't know if EP was meant to serve as a period piece, or just to show that great music can be made without following the current trends, but the eight songs here leave me hoping that Cush intends to release a full album, and that this isn't a one off.  A welcome return to a better time in music.

Brian A. Smith 10/20/2001

When in doubt, make it all-star.  For Cush, the flame of music refused to die even when the bands the members were in disintegrated.  From Prayer Chain to LSU to Adam Again and everything in between, this is healthy mesh of old-fashioned rock and art rock. 

The eight track EP opens with “Halo Sounds,” a track reminiscent of a Prayer Chain song, which is not surprising.  Each song carries traits of the individual stylistic nuances of the former bands, which creates an interesting twist on an already stellar original. 

“Sailing Sounds,” incorporates elements of a classic sixties ballad with soft drums, steadily flowing keyboard and an airy flute melody.  “Anchor Deep,” and “A Rock and Roll King,” sound more artsy than some of the other tracks--reminiscent of Luxury.

The final track on the EP, “Sniper’s Mourning,” starts off heavy, but still retains the non-aggressive style of later Audio Adrenaline.

Though the songs definitely fit into the genre the band is going for, it all sounds a bit too familiar with slight elemental differences.  Cush may be an all-star band, but their sound needs to take on a life of its own.

Kerry Maffeo 10/24/2001

The year 2000 brought us the debut album from Christian rock all-star band Cush. Composed of members of bands such as Prayer Chain, Honey, and Starflyer 59, and sporting lead singer Mike Knott, the band was a hit among long-time Christian rock listeners even before they released an album. That debut from Cush utilized a rather mellow, but very fresh and atmospheric sound.

This year’s second outing from Cush, an EP, blows away all preconceptions of what Cush should sound like. Where the first Cush album was lush and melodic, this latest version of Cush majors on rocking out to incredible music. The guitar solos are wonderful and help to create an instant sense of enjoyment for the listener. Where last year’s release featured Mike Knott on vocals, this latest release utilizes the lungs of Michael Pritzl and Scott Malone.

While Knott’s voice is missed, this new cast of singers fits perfectly with the musical sound of the band. 

There is not a whole lot of spiritual depth to be found on the album. However, lyrical depth is not necessarily the main thing that Cush is aiming at with their music. Their chief goal is making incredible music. Songs like “Rev It Up” do create interesting ideas ("Gone up to heaven/ God save the king of punk rock"). The tune “Anchor Deep” also seems to be paintung a picture of need for God. 

Though this is a rock-out album, there are also a few softer songs to be found here as well. The best of these is “The Brightest Light”, which reminds me somewhat of the mellow tunes that the Violet Burning makes. The vocals of Michael Pritzl make that comparison especially easy to make. “Sailing Sounds” is another soft and smooth tune that would work well on a long car trip.

With Cush’s EP we see that because of their amazing talent, Cush can pull of pretty much whatever sound they want to shoot for. Though this album is a drastic change from the band’s debut, I actually find myself enjoying it even more. I am highly anticipating the next full length from this beautiful music manifesto known as Cush.

Trae Cadenhead 11/4/2001

Although the colleagues of Cush hail from some of Christian music's most successful and revered alternative rock bands, tagging its collection of artists a supergroup seems somewhat of a misnomer.  To be sure, the group's membership includes players from such highly esteemed alternative outfits as the Violet Burning, Duraluxe, Fold Zandura and the Prayer Chain, among others. But, in the words of the members themselves, Cush is more of a concept than anything else and, as such, is represented by a like-minded, but constantly shifting, roster of writers and musicians rather than by a formal band.  Regardless, though, of how one chooses to define the group proper, the collective's second effort, the Cush EP, represents an ideal opportunity for the Cushites to shelve convention and explore a less structured, and more abandoned, approach to music making than might otherwise be available to them in their respective band settings. 

To this end, the Cush collective succeeds splendidly.  The EP-opening "Halo Sounds" bolts out of the starting gate like a champion thoroughbred and, from that point on, the band rarely stops to look back.  "Sniper's Morning" and the equally lively "Anchor Deep" are filled to overflowing with the loose, sludgy guitar riffs and delightfully rowdy attitude that inhabited ground-breaking late '60s proto-punk stylings of Detroit's MC5.  "The Brightest Light" is a similarly authentic-sounding nod to melodic '70s glam rock, down to its Bowie-like vocal inflections.  "A Rock and Roll King" lifts guitar and synth riffs from "Baba O' Riley," "Can't Explain" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" for its boisterous salute to the British Invasion hard rock stylings of the Who.  And "Rev It Up" is a hoarse-throated, all-out barrage of garage band rock & roll that teeters, gloriously, on the verge of falling apart.  On the lyrical front, with lines like (Jesus, save our souls!/ Jesus, rock and roll!) and (Got a lot to say/ Gabba gabba hey/ Jesus saves), one is never truly sure if the band is paying tribute to the music it emulates or merely sending it up.  But, given that the results are this gloriously high-spirited and well-executed, the answer hardly seems to matter.  While the members of the Cush commune have, by and large, forsaken the dreamy emo rock musical backdrop and tangential, semi-poetic lyrics of their impressive self-titled debut, they have, at the same time, traded them for a writing style that is both earthy and immediate.  And, given the magnificent way that the Cush EP has turned out, one is ultimately hard-pressed to object.

Bert Gangl 11/4/2001


 

   
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