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Deena @ Rock n Joe

Millburn, New Jersey, USA

Millburn, New Jersey, USA

Deena @ Basement Bands X, Our Lady of Sorrows, Academy Street

South Orange, New Jersey, USA

South Orange, New Jersey, USA

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“Somewhere in Blue will brighten your day and reaffirm your belief in the power of rock ‘n’ roll to stay with us throughout our adult lives” - Jim Testa, Jersey Beat

Deena, also known as the singer of The Cucumbers, has struck out with a solo album. Her voice is as charming as I found it when I reviewed The Cucumbers' album. It has the same sort of dreamy quality you can find in singers like Hope Sandoval and the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni.

The album kicks off with the title track. "Somewhere in Blue" is a richly textured song with a heavy Bakersfield influence. It has a little twang and a little of that sort of distant, slightly psychedelic guitar. Paired with her sweet voice, this is a real good way to get the album going. She follows that with "Mr. Midnight," which is a power-pop song not unlike you would hear from Lush.

She delves deeper into the twangy sound with both "I Wish I Could Be Enough" and "Why Do Hearts Grow Cold?" "I Wish I could Be Enough" features some great harmonica. All in all, this sounds like the sort of song you'd hear around a campfire for one of those "out on the trail" movies. "Why Do Hearts Grow Cold?" is just a cool rootsy song featuring Deena on the banjo.

Deena shows even greater range with "What the Love [Are You Gonna Do?]" This is a groovy-funky-psychedelic tune that got my head moving.

This album is a bit like a sampler platter, filled with a bunch of good stuff. There are plenty of good Bakersfield-influenced songs, some poppy gems, some rockabilly ("Best Kind of Something"), and lots of excellent harmony vocals. Deena never strains her voice. These are fairly simple songs delivered in a real straightforward style. Deena delivers the goods with an album that is bound to get your toe tapping and your head moving.

- Gary Schwind,

somewhere in BLUE is a powerful statement from a Rock-n-Roll adult. Deena has taken her sweetness, evidenced through some of the most versatile vocals of pure innocence, and crafted a gem of an album. This album becomes a classic for every mid-life rocker whose roots drink deeply from the country/southern rock/rockabilly influences of the 50s, carried through the 60s, and 70s, right on up to where this huge demographic of music listeners is today. This album is a history lesson tied around Mid-life and it gives back the love/music that has gone missing in our lives. It metaphorically updates our love affair(s) with music by taking to task a story of a lonely, loving, isolated, caring soul committed to a long term relationship with many ties and obligations. But, there is something missing – while committed enough to understand the scope of her world and how much rests and relies on her, she has convinced herself content with her situation – Yet, she seeks solace in a semi-dreamlike state, or as the narrator calls it: somewhere in BLUE. A story arc develops through several different perspectives and scenarios as she begins, not to abandon her state, but to explore the possibilities of all the stages she needs to fulfill, in order to validate her existence, in regard to what cannot be found or fulfilled within the limited reaches of her everyday life – a life which grows shorter with each year – a Mid-life crisis? A Love crisis? A music crisis? Or simply a crisis? Well Deena, with somewhere in BLUE, has made it all a celebration.

This album opens with the title track, somewhere in BLUE: a dreamy Starland Ballroom musical setting, which has us half-expecting Dusty Springfield to step to the mic. Somewhere in BLUE is loneliness; it is reflective of a searching heart, a soul who has lost what she once had and wants it back. She searches, leaning on an old flame: a Buddy Holly-esque ballad standard which Deena wraps her aching, longing vocals around. So melancholy, so down-in-the-dumps blue, we feel her love (and the music) aching to be wanted, to be needed again:

Blue surrounds me
Wraps itself around me
If only it were you
My love could come through
Somewhere in blue

Is this pointed at a fantasy escape in the mind of our protagonist? Or is it a real possibility on her part? Or perhaps it can also be viewed through the eyes of the other partner? Either way we're into an in-depth exploration of the lure of infidelity in the heart, soul, and sound.
Enter Mr. Midnight, all amped up as our adventure begins. She's tossed herself out there, open to the possibilities that may be achieved even if within the limitation of her life, and Mr. Midnight is definitely a possibility because she caught his eye. This seemingly dreamlike sequence is accented by call and response, angelic, multi-layered backing vocals working over a real garage-y/grunge-y guitar and a driving indie-pop dance beat, that sets us up for the morning after and another dawning for our heroine…

I Wish I Could Be Enough looks at the failing relationship(s) from a point of view valid on each side – the person who can't be enough: "What's wrong with me?" A somber pickin' tune drawing on country roots-a-billy blues to accent the hurt and heartbreak as she realizes that the relationship she is desperately trying to cling to is in a whole lot of hurt:

I gave you all I've got
My sweetest every drop
Now you've got me wondering
What's wrong with me
What's wrong with me?

Again another revelation, and again the hurt builds – Why Do Hearts Grow Old is a pure Grand Ole Opry Country song, which one can envision a young June Carter belting out. Our lonely lover questions the state of the relationship, and between the subtle banjo pickin' and slide guitar weeping (built around the chorus:

Why do hearts grow cold
Why does love grow old
These are things that no one ever told me
Everything begins
Then one day it ends
It's just a very simple story),

it's clear that her romanticist view has finally realized that even though deep down in her heart her love still rings true, it may be growing cold.

So let's check out Gemini Guy. He's described using a Surf/Garage/Girl group sound a la 1980. Here we have a Debra Harry/Blondie track played for all it's worth as Mr. Gemini steps in for Mr. Midnight. But he's not really there for her. She thinks he is, thinks him and her could hit it off well, both seem to have the same agenda, but she can't pin him down.

Midway through this Midlife fantasy, What the Love (Are You Gonna Do?) throws down the funk and busts it open by using a RockDownBaby meets Talking Heads meets Sly & The Family Stone with an awesome Sax break to boot. This song exposes various themes of the infidelity of the heart - the twists, the turns, the attraction, the excitement of each individual's search for happiness in life, and the realization that all these different measures can be brought to light, but at what costs? (and we note how the musical landscape provides a perfect backing track of metaphoric delight – piece it together once the entire story is told and you'll be amazed how music can be substituted for any of the characters here).

I got a big love and a big heart
I'm going lay it out there for you
What the love are you gonna do
What the love are you gonna do

I got a big fire that you sparked
And I think I'm lighting you up too
What the love are you gonna do
What the love are you gonna do

She needs him bad, bad, bad and here there is love involved, here it's getting Funk-u-fied. She's put it out there, given up and given in, it's time to see if the emotionally damaged soul within can actually ever find the love and self-worth that have been left by the wayside for so long…

Ramblin' Dave shows up, messing around with her to a Southern roots rocking barn-dance-on-a-Saturday-night charmer. She falls hard but realizes that both their primary commitments will doom what they might possibly try to achieve…

You know you light me up when you look my way
Even though I know it's a big mistake
Because there's no good result… but there's no escape

Maybe it's the scenario that is the escape. Which we are reminded of by That Moon's Got It Made. Staying with the country flavored slide guitar work, it represents a bit of a reflective look at what the story has progressed to, envying the Moon as the metaphorical heartstring tugger . Clever word play highlights the different points of view that each song/story underlines. The sequencing here is crucial as we are reminded of the dreamlike state that introduced the story to us. Has everything that transpired so far been the real story? Or is she still within that dreamlike state and following the story her imagination, emotions, and music have laid out for her?

Best Kind of Something bursts forth and has the barn dance a Honky-Tonkin', filling the joint with a whooping and a howlerin' as Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Train is heading down the track. This is an Elvis Presley Movie where they let the starlet take the mic for a song to give it to her lover boy – She's telling him that she's got what he wants and needs, so come and get it! – She's taking it into her own hands – She got love for him, he's got to understand and take it. Finally, it feels good. She's seen the light. Having a blast, enjoying her life like she wants to. This is so much fun and she admits to becoming so lost in her daydream that it really doesn't matter anymore, what matters is the end result and that's the joy and happiness she's feeling, and you know what? It is the best – the Best Kind of Something – but…

I heard the word. somewhere a long time ago
I got lost in a daydream, and I'm still somewhere in it, don't you know
Oh baby..BING..BING you ring my bell
I'd fall head over heels if I hadn't already fell.
oh yeah...

Oh yeah…, and then, Science Fiction takes that something out into the astral plain. This is no adolescent soap opera; this is educated, world-wise adults exploring alternate pleasure routes within the limits of our earthly beings. Experimenting not with drugs, but with metaphysics, in ways that should be disproven, but when called upon within the realm of possibilities, make more and more sense with each year closer to death. So when this Classic Punk/New Wave, Garage/Grunge tune starts mowing it down with

Feel my telepathy
Feel my telepathy
Feel my telepathy

We're buying in 100%

You Are the Sweetest Dream brings it back down to reality and gives a ballad that does it right - Borrowing a Beth Orton style arrangement and instrumentation and delivered in a sweet Deena lower octave. Again, we are left to decide whether this heartbreaking album was all a dream or if the dream had actually been lived out (and possibly to its fullest). Either way there is a reluctance to acknowledge whether or not this has concluded or if it will continue.

The closer, Goodbye Dreamer, says farewell. But farewell to whom? The original relationship? The Clandestine relationship? Or perhaps the dreamer herself? Has she finally found herself and the strength to carry on regardless of whatever conclusions we have drawn from her tale? The important lesson here is the journey she has taken. Whether figurative or literally, she/we have learned more about love and life through the beauty of music. somewhere in BLUE is Deena's musical affair of the heart. Spreading the love around, so that we are once again young and joyful.

You know just what it means
This dream we have
Just want to share all the beautiful things
And make you glad
Something like this so sweet
Baby, can't be bad

Deena is Deena Shoshkes, the singer-songwriter who fronts the veteran Jersey power-pop group the Cucumbers and has also performed with children's band Over the Moon. This is the Millburn resident's first solo album, and its sweet, buoyant songs should make it an immediate favorite of fans of her other work.
Shoshkes recorded it in Nashville, and gives some of the songs, such as the musically brisk but lyrically yearning "Why Do Hearts Grow Cold?", a country flavor.
The torchy title track -- arguably the biggest change of pace for the eternally cheerful Shoskes -- doesn't really work. But everything else does. "Gemini Guy" is built around a brilliantly propulsive electric guitar riff, and "What the Love (Are You Gonna Do?)" adds some funk (a style often favored by the Cucumbers) to the mix. "Best Kind of Something" is a bouncy rock song, reminiscent of "Sun Sessions"-era Elvis Presley.
"Feel my telepathy," Shoshkes commands on the slightly loopy "Science Fiction," while on, "Rambling Dave," she makes unrequited love sound fun: "There's no good result, but there's no escape from your sweet-talkin', heart-stoppin', Southern-country, charmin', lovin' ways."
Shoshkes will celebrate the release of the album with a show at 7 p.m. tonight at The Goldhawk, 936 Park Ave., Hoboken. Call (201) 420-7989 or visit
Download this: "Best Kind of Something" - Jay Lustig, Star Ledger,

Multi-genre and multi-talented, it would be wise to keep your ears open for this artist as her future looks particularly bright due to this albums release.
With her songs recorded by the likes of Jackson Browne and Valeria Carter, this album by the lead singer of The Cucumbers is something else, who must be said sounds a lot like Blondie. The songs on this twelve-track album are crafted like a Renaissance painting and given the care and attention of a Gothic sculpture; they have such a professional sound about them whilst keeping to the kooky and outsider sound that it seems Deena is proud of creating. Whilst her material is this good, who can blame her!
Just like its title, the harmonies to Rambling Dave have a sprawling and comical sound about them which made this track an instantly memorable one when first hearing it. The drumming keeps the song plodding along pleasantly enough, but it is Deena’s vocals which makes this track what it is. The Moon’s Got It Made too is a cracker. With a beautiful and traditional country start about it, this tune feels like it should have been a pop song due to the harmonies; Bill Monroe it certainly isn’t but a hybrid of artists that makes the mind boggle and eyes quizzing the ears as to see what they have just witnessed. Despite its sombre opening, What the Love (Are You Gonna Do?) seems to explode a third of the way through due to saxophone which wouldn’t sound out of place in a Ted Heath track whilst keeping true to its contemporary roots.
Deena is someone who doesn’t follow rhythm to be different, but it seems as though this it what seems right to her. No songs like has have been heard before on contemporary albums, which in turn leads to a joyous and genius sound being created right before your very eardrums. RH - Maverick Magazine

I can remember when The Cucumbers were at the height of popularity, playing alongside The Bongos, the Feelies and many others, and causing quite a commotion with the 1987 Profile Records release of “My Boyfriend,” a song that got extensive play time on MTV. It was also an important industry event as Profile was a rap label that made a bold move (for the time) by scooping up some white, suburban pop rockers and releasing their disc to critical acclaim. Being in the same general music scene at the time, we all knew that they were on the fast track. With over 15 recordings, as well as television and movie credits to their name, they managed to survive over the years as a hardcore duo (they’ve had several drummers and bass players) and continue making the music that they so evidently love to play.

Somewhere In Blue is the debut solo disc that shows singer Deena Shoshkes stepping away from The Cucumbers name tag and into her own comfy, country pop pajama party. Twelve songs ranging from the velvety, tremolo-drenched title track to the Cukes inspired pop rock of “Mr. Midnight” and some pretty damn convincing country this side o’ Nashville tell me that Deena just loves exploring.

And Somewhere In Blue is just that, an exploration of sound, color and feeling all seamlessly rolled into a single disc of likeable continuity. When I first read that there were four producers and at least three locations used to do this I thought, “Oh boy, I’m gonna hear the disconnections,” but I’m happy to say, they don’t exist on this disc.

I think the most interesting part of her direction is her foray into folk and country-oriented composition. Her eyes were widely opened to the down home sounds of country, southern rock and traditional folk by Tennessee-based lyricist David Graham. Graham contributed to four tunes on the disc and his music history wanderings with Deena have paid off well. And before you start saying, “Well, she’s from Jersey, what the hell does she know about anything?” Jackson Browne, Valerie Carter and Jonatha Brooke have all recorded Deena’s songs.

I like the casual feel that Shoshkes created with her choice of tracks on Somewhere In Blue. This CD reminds me that the days of worrying about what record company guys want are long gone as far as commercial strategies, replacing that unreachable carrot with stark human emotion and the unique art of do-it-yourself ingenuity.

Opening track “Somewhere In Blue” is probably my favorite, painting deliciously outside the blue velvet lines and drawing you into the dusty Claudine Longet lounge shuffle, covering you in dark, reverb-drenched guitars, ninth chords and the dream trance emotion of Shoshkes’ soul stirring voice.

The Go Go’s feel of “Mr. Midnight” is an upbeat rock popper with four-four drum work and some cool ‘80s tinged background vox and flanger swirled guitar work. “Gemini Guy” is pure alterna-hip fun with its country-tinged chorus, keeping this rocker closely inside the new country cross-over territory and sure to be an XM radio favorite. I’m not sure who’s playing lead on this one but it’s Drive-By Truckers tasty!

The good time Tammy Wynette feel of “Why Do Hearts Grow Cold,” “Rambling Dave,” and “That Moons Got It Made,” roll into town on the truck stop bending steel of Jonathan Gregg and the songbird smooth voice of Shoshkes leads the way, leaving the listener with a new perspective of the writer and the feeling that she’s headed into a whole new musical direction with this disc.

Utilizing long time friends Pat Karwan (1910 Fruitgum Co.), Stone Jack Jones, Jonathan Gregg (pedal steel guru), Brian Wolfe (My Brightest Diamond) and Tom Cottone (The Churchills). Deena also chose long time friend and producer Roger Moutenot (producer of Yo La Tengo and mixing for Lou Reed, Roseanne Cash, Paula Cole and others) to do a couple songs down in Nashville for this project as well as her own production in conjunction with “The Laughing Boys,” Tom Lucas and Ed Iglewski.

Somewhere In Blue is a great effort by a songwriter who has paid her dues while walking a mile in a lot of shoes, and with this latest she’s found the most comfortable fit to continue on her interesting journey. - The Aquarian Weekly


"Somewhere in Blue" (CD) Life Force Records 2009, solo album

"Songs of the Spectrum" (CD) 2010 (included on compilation album which features Jackson Browne, Marshall Crenshaw, Dar Williams and many others.

Included on several Main Man Records Compilation CDs including:
"Remember the Coop" 2010
"Horsefeathers and Animal Crackers" 2009
"Are We Not Devo" 2010
"Just What We Needed" 2010
"A Few Uneven Rhymes" 2009

To be released this spring 2011: collaborations with Jack Bragg & 1000 Pities

"Love & Sex & Rock & Roll" (CD) 2007 Life Force Record, by RockDownBaby (all songs by Deena)

AND with The Cucumbers:

"All Things to You" (CD)
2004 Fictitious Records (Nashville, TN)

"Total Vegetility" (CD)
1999 Home Office Records (New York, NY)

"Where We Sleep Tonight" (LP)
1994 Zero Hour Records (New York, NY)

"The Cucumbers" (LP)
1987 Profile Records (New York, NY)

"All Shook Up" (12” Single)
1986 Fake Doom Records (New York, NY)

"Who Betrays Me and Other Happier Songs" (LP)
1985 Fake Doom Records (New York, NY)

"Fresh Cucumbers" (EP)
1983 Fake Doom Records (New York, NY)

Compilations and other releases with The Cucumbers:

200 Cadillacs (Blue Cadillac, All Shook Up)
2004 Image Entertainment
Soundtrack to DVD about the things Elvis gave away

Ho Ho Ho Spice (Auld Lange Syne)
2002 Volunteer Records
Album to benefit for St. Barnabas Hospice

Science Fiction (4-song CD)
2002 just for fun, just because, why not, say yes records
Llimited edition release

A Christmas Present for You (Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of a Rum)
1995 Zero Hour Records
Zero Hour Christmas compilation

Flies/It’s a Shame (green vinyl 7”)
1994 Zero Hour Records

My Boyfriend (7” single)
1987 Profile Records

Ferro-Bottanica Magazine Insert (four-song 7” with four bands)
1982 D Musica Productions
First version of My Boyfriend



Longtime lead singer/guitar player and songwriter for the alternative pop band the Cucumbers, Deena has ventured out on her own as a solo artist. “Somewhere in Blue” her most recent CD received airplay around the world and rave reviews.

The sounds on “Somewhere in Blue,” are a unique blend of new wave rockabilly, country and folk rock, filtered through Deena’s long-time indie pop sensibilities.

Recorded in Nashville, with producer Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Josh Rouse) and New Jersey, with The Laughing Boys, the recordings bridge the distance between Deena’s roots in New Jersey music (from Hoboken indie pop to the Jersey shore) and alt country Americana.

In addition to writing, producing and recording for her many musical projects including RockDownBaby (dance pop), The Cucumbers (alternative/indie rock) and Over the Moon (rock and roll for children), Deena’s songs have been commissioned for tv, film, radio and live theater.

Her songs have been recorded by Jackson Browne, Valerie Carter, Dar Williams, Jonatha Brooke, and praised in the NY Times, the Village Voice and Rolling Stone Magazine. Her recordings have been included in several feature film soundtracks and on NBC, HBO, MTV and DSC.