The Cringe
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The Cringe

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Alternative Rock

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The Cringe actually formed in 2004 and have had some high profile support slots with diverse acts such as The New York Dolls, The Hold Steady and The Bravery. The band are led by John Cusimano but he is also joined by some talented musicians, with some great experience. The band consists of drummer Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live band, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow), lead guitarist and singer James ‘Roto’ Rotondi (Mr Bungle, Air), and bassist Jonny Matias (Crash Moderns). Given the diverse nature of the band it won’t come as a surprise to see that the album is a mixed and entertaining affair.


It opens up with “Rushing Through The World”, which is an in your face song which has an almost Foo Fighters feel. They then enter top quality pop rock territory on “Finally Gonna Be On Your Own” (not surprising given the Crash Modern link). It’s an upbeat, melodic, rocker which should be played whilst driving down the highway. “Deep Girl” is similar, but adds a bit of funk swagger in to the mix. The pop rocking sound continues with “Gotta Find A Way” with the added melody of a piano before you hit the great mid song break. This gives it a rocky,power pop, feel a la Cheap Trick.
“Make Me Something” slows things down, as it moves in to a big ballad which, once upon a time, would have been featured all over MTV and US commercial rock radio. The slower pace continues with “Gimme Resurrection”, but now we are talking great, laid back, coolness. This is the Summer on the beach, chill out track, for the album.


Things get a little heavier and darker with “Lord Jim”. It has a brooding bass line and a harder melody which is very different to the overall sound of the rest of the album. “Blame It All on Me” soon brings us swiftly out of the gloom and back to the sunshine. It’s another cracking pop rock number which keeps building up and down until it reaches the brash chorus. The album ends with “String You Along”, which again has a harsher edge than some of the earlier tracks. This is the one that you could see the band really smashing out live, to demonstrate all the bands considerable musical skills.
This is a really great modern rock album which combines some great variety of styles. They are all firmly in the pop/rock side of things, thanks to the focus on the melody and tunes. Unlike many albums though, there is still some variety and each song has something different about it. Given the background and experience of the band it should really not come as a surprise that that they have created a big rock album, which is sadly so very rare these days. - The Soul of A Clown


Throughout the first half of 2007, this explosive N.Y. based band's lead singer, guitarist and dominant songwriter John Cusimano became a tabloid staple for all the wrong reasons: as the husband of Food Network icon Rachael Ray, involved in a swirl of rumors about their marriage. In a perfect world, he and his three Cringe cohorts -- lead guitarist Robb Levin, bassist Matt Powers and drummer Shawn Pelton -- deserved mainstream exposure for being the current decade's answer to the Foo Fighters, not for the travails of their personal lives. Cusimano's infectious and insightful songwriting is the foundation for the band's dynamic mix of artful, harmonic power pop and raw aggressive punk garage band energy. While Tipping Point, their second disc, has the perfect mix of blistering energy and thoughtful contemplation for these troubled times -- a dichotomy perfectly captured on key tracks like the brooding anti-war anthem "Freedom Ban" and the wild, spirited punk party jam "Undone" -- the Cringe was also committed to the old-school truth of analog recording here. Having played with the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, Pelton felt right at home, as he put it, "going back to '78." The idea wasn't simply to go retro for retro's sake, however -- it was to convey the raw fire of the band's live shows, which they do perfectly on crisp, blistering rockers like "Coming Home" and "Fade Out." The Cringe is equally compelling on moodier tunes like the painfully emotional "Patient Man" (which finds Cusimano in a wistful, Eddie Vedder-inspired mode) and the heartbreaking "Chosen One." They're also cool with tongue in cheek social commentary on another instant classic, the scorching and punkish "California," which includes some of Cusimano's vocals filtered through a megaphone as it tackles the dual reality of "farms and vineyards/with your whores and sinners." But even these New Yorkers realize that they "just can't escape you." Like all great rock bands, the Cringe were chroniclers of their times, mixing darkness in with the light, and inspiring us to feel energized during the wild trip through the jungle of emotions. - allMusic


The Cringe, "Tipping Point" (Listen Records)

This 3-year-old New York City quartet is led by John Cusimano, aka Mr. Rachael Ray. And like his cooking guru dynamo, he was involved in all aspects of this project: He wrote all the songs and produced his band's sophomore effort. A lawyer by trade, Cusimano is the group's singer and guitarist.

This is straight-forward rock that deals with politics ("Someday"; "In God We Trust") and emotions (the bad relationship gone badder of "Blame"). It has a '70s rock vibe to it — cowbell(!) on the rocker "Coming Home" — possibly because the album was recorded live to and mixed on analog tape without use of computers or digital effects.

Standout tracks include the pop-punkish rat-race tale "Undone"; "California," a love/hate letter to the Sunshine State with the chorus sung through a megaphone; and the anti-war diatribe "Freedom Ban," an MOR rocker that gets epic/anthemic heft with the addition of keyboards.

Cusimano has a pleasant enough voice and vocal style that sounds like Maroon 5's Adam Levine ("Patient Man") or Train's Pat Monahan ("And Then I'm Gone"), especially on the ballads and slow jams.

Rabbit in the Moon, "Decade" (South Beat Records)

Rabbit in the Moon is a Miami dance music collective, led by main instigators Bunny on vocals and performance art, and knob-twiddler David Christophere on samplers and beats.

As the name of the disc implies, this is a 10-year CD/DVD retrospective featuring previously unreleased and remastered songs, as well as music and live performance videos. They deal in techno, electronic dance music that's ambient, rave-ish and repetitive with endless beats. When there are vocals, they are disembodied, or snippets or outtakes from some B-movie.

And true to rave/DJ prowess, the CD seems like one long song as it segues from one to the next. It begins with the ambient techno of "Timebomb" (sex through electronics) and ends with the trancelike "Out Of Body Experience."

The industrial "Alphatron" sounds even more futuristic, if that's possible, thanks to an otherworldly, operatic female voice singing an aria. It flows into the funky electronic beat of "Omegatron." A slap beat accentuates the electro rhythms of "Metropolis," while "Star Shine (Come Alive)" is fueled by a skittish rhythm and disco beats.

If you're not a raver or techno aficionado, you might recognize David Bowie's "Let's Dance." However, it's a deconstructed and dementedly funky electro version, where the lyrics become menacing threats.

An RITM show features live instruments and a cast of rotating performers, as well as costuming (Bunny in his LED suit-of-lights), fire dancers, pyrotechnics and interactive video. Bunny is also known to put on his iron mask and shoot sparks off it with a hand grinder.

Rabbit in the Moon performs on Aug. 10 and The Cringe performs on Aug. 11 at the Santa Fe Muzik Fest at the Downs of Santa Fe, 27475 W. Frontage Road, just off I-25 in the City Different.

Other featured performers during the three-day festival include RDB, Blue October, George Clinton & P-Funk, Shiny Toy Guns, Wu Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Dark Star Orchestra, Blues Traveler and Everclear.

Tickets are $59 for one day, $105 for two days or $135 for all three, plus service charges, at In Ticketing and Ticketmaster outlets. Call 883-7800 or go to Ticketmaster. For more info, daily lineups and set times, go to Santa Fe Muzik Fest. - The Albuquerque Tribune




I didn’t think I would like it. I stared at “Tipping Point,” the second album by The Cringe. I couldn’t help but think the only reason the disc was being pushed by a high-powered PR firm was due to band leader John Cusimano’s better half, ubiquitous foodie Rachael Ray.

Could Cusimano have anything to offer? There’s a long list of would-be rockers who found 15 minutes of fame thanks to connections to a noteworthy performer. Whatever happened to vocalist Jodi Bongiovi, Philadelphia Soul CEO Jon Bon Jovi’s cousin? Or singer-songwriter Simon Townshend, son of the legendary Pete Townshend?

But when I finally listened to “Tipping Point,” I had to admit, it’s good. I’m impressed.

The Cringe is a pretty apt name for Cusimano’s band. The lawyer/rocker can’t help but cringe when asked about being overshadowed by his perky wife and the rumors their union is shaky.

“The craziest thing is hearing these stories that aren’t true,” Cusimano said of tales he is cheating on Ray. “It’s really annoying. That stuff has really thrown us for a loop. What can you say about it? It’s just not accurate. But I guess that’s the hazards of this industry. As for Racheal being so successful, I have no problem that she’s such a big star. She’s earned it. It doesn’t get in the way of what I do.”

Actually, it helps. There’s little doubt folks who haven’t heard a note of The Cringe’s earnest, straightforward rock will check out the band when it performs July 19 at Grape Street in Manayunk since Cusimano is a celebrity by association.

“I’m just like anybody else,” Cusimano said while calling from his Greenwich Village apartment. “I want as many people as possible to hear my band. Getting people to a show is one thing. Having them stay interested after they hear it is a completely different deal. It reminds me of when I met Rachael. I told her I was in a band and she came down to check us out. She later told me what went through her mind, which was, ‘great, I have to pretend to like this guy’s band.’ But there she was hooting and hollering at our show and she came up and said, ‘hey, you guys are really good.’”

The Cringe’s newest drop is a balanced, consistent mix of catchy power pop and visceral hard rock. Cusimano proves a capable singer who also is a fine storyteller. Ray is on the money. The Cringe, which includes guitarist Rob Levin, bassist Matt Powers and drummer Shawn Pelton, is a solid, dynamic act.

“Tipping Point” is a warm, retro-sounding album that has a 1970s feel since it was recorded in analog and the band chose to use vintage gear.

“We wanted to do it just like it was done back in the day,” Cusimano said. “We didn’t use any computers. We didn’t even think about using ProTools. We didn’t want it to sound perfect. We wanted it to sound like it is when we play live.”

Cusimano and company have yet to perform in Philadelphia, with the Manayunk date a first. “How can we make sure they love us there?” Cusimano asked.

How about making one of Ray’s ‘delish’ dishes that can be made in less than 30 minutes for the crowd? “I can cook,” Cusimano said. “I serve as sous chef at home when Rachael cooks. We just got back from Peru and my parents were over last night and we made them Peruvian chicken. There are two ways to get to people, through music and food, and I can do both.” - South Philly Review.com


While I am always leery of those bands that eschew new, better ways of recording, I still try to give the bands the benefit of the doubt. The Cringe use all analogue recording for “Tipping Point”, and “California” is the first track that most individuals will be familiar with when they first hear The Cringe. The track is a noisy type of rock that has hints of Blur, Goo Goo Dolls, Queens of the Stone Age, and even hints of the MC5.

The one thing that comes forth first on this disc is that the band buries their levels at points, making it a little difficult to hear the rest of the instruments at those points. The confidence exerted by the band on tracks like “California” is without criticism; The Cringe know what they are doing and do not need to be accepted to go forward with it. In fact, the use of all analogue recording does not provide any fundamental difference that I can hear to acts that decide to go digital. Regardless, The Cringe play a style of music that while played by a few different bands, is distinct to the band. “And Then I’m Gone” is a track that adds a little Elton John and Adam Duritz to the mix, with the arrangements being simple until the band gets into the lead-up to the chorus. The band is able to make a single-worthy track with “And Then I’m Gone”. The fact that the band changes up their output during the chorus (in opposition to the stanzas) shows their ability as musicians and their maturity as a band.

The Cringe provide two very different conceptions to their sound with these two tracks, which should be one of the best reasons for individuals to pick up this album; people just do not know what they are going to get besides knowing that what they are going to get is good. “In God We Trust” brings the band into a harder rock style, with the arrangement of the guitars almost approaching the intensity of bands like Bad Religion. The style is still catchy, and while tremendously influenced by the popular rock of the early nineties, is something that is in the here and now for anyone that may be listening in. The Cringe is an act that comes out of nowhere to impress and wow; when the album gets more in the way of play in the following months, chances are good that they will rocket up the CMJ charts.

Top Tracks: Chosen One, Freedom Ban

Rating: 7.0/10 - NeuFutur : The Zine with 100% of your daily fibre!


Right away from the front cover of this CD you see a band of creepy-looking monkey dolls that will just freak you out. I already sense from the art work that this group is going to play against the grain and who knows may even make you cringe in the process. One thing is for certain and that is that The Cringe perform to the tune of no-nonsense monkey business and Play Thing is no laughing matter.

The Cringe is based in NYC and their power-packed sound definitely lives up to stature of the Big Apple. With plenty of musical background, all four members bring an overload of experience to this project. The lineup consists of: John Cusimano as lead singer/songwriter & producer, James Rotondi (ex-Air, Mr. Bungle) on lead guitar, Jonny Matias (ex-Crash Moderns) on bass and Shawn Pelton (SNL, Bruce Springsteen) bangin’ on the drums. Dating back to 2004, The Cringe have recorded two previous albums called Scratch The Surface and Tipping Point. Play Thing is the third installment for this NYC bunch and it may possibly be their best work to date. This record will more than live up to the hype of being a high quality, well-produced/performed/written album.

The Cringe come with a power rock sound that includes elements of punk, pop and hard rock. There are revved up moments of angst and aggression that are aimed at our society and its beliefs & principles. I’m hearing definite pokes toward universal conformity as The Cringe take jabs left and right at our hierarchy. They bring you socially conscious music to really listen close to and hear the truth.

As soon as you push play, you hear raw energy that is locked & loaded and ready to go on “Ride”. This adrenaline-rushed track is some ride! What I truly enjoyed about this record were the rocked out performances and the incredible lyrics. There were also some wonderful harmonies and catchy melodies that grab your attention right away. John Cusimano’s songwriting ability shines through loud and clear on Play Thing. Cusimano really blew me away just by his words he sang out. A great message is included on track three, “In The End (We Are All The Same)”, where John expresses in so many words that no matter what happens down here on Earth, we are all the same in the end. He even dares people to think about this concept when he sings the line: “Food for thought; it’s all in your brain”. Song five, “No Control”, really makes you stop and think due to the heavy emphasis on the words “No Control”. He vocalizes about the “pills you take” and “the words you bend” that there is no self control these days. In a sense, Cusimano is calling us out as a PEOPLE, which I think is so direct & powerful. One other song that offers phenomenal lyrics was “Start Again” that gets very personal. John sings that “I hope that it’s not too late” and that “it’s fear that brings you down”. He’s saying it’s never too late to start again, but you can’t be afraid to try. In the end, you always have to hang on to hope no matter what. The Cringe turn it up a notch on “Friends & Family” with a heavy, in-your-face jam and end all matters on a rock solid note with “Give and Take”.

I am now a fan of this band as they have a lot to say and sound great doing it. Don’t hesitate to hear this group for yourself because they offer an amazing set. If nothing else, these musicians are helping bring awareness to public issues and problems that face US each and every day. For more on this talented crew from New York and their meaningful new release, Play Thing, SKOPE out www.thecringe.com.

By Jimmy Rae
- Skope


The Cringe are a band I have heard promising things about on the grapevine, but have never made any personal commitment into seeking out their music further, until now... A pop-rock themed album which has undercurrents of heavier influences, clinging onto the coat-tails of bands from the grunge persuasion. Just to reference a bit of background information for all you technical minded folk; "Play Thing" was recorded with long time engineer Steve Hardy (Vertical Horizon, The Upwelling), and with input from legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, XTC). Once again I find myself in a position where the band has all the credential and craftsmanship behind the scenes of an album, and I wait eagerly to find out whether it’s hype comes to fruition.

Diving headlong into the opening track ‘Ride’, it became obvious early on that those classic sounds of the 90’s had been remodeled in the form of The Cringe’s musical approach. The song is cheerful and infectious; typical of radio-friendly tunes you’d find yourself singing the words to on the way home from work. The lyrics are simple and likable, if occasionally leaning towards a few more forced rhymes. But hey, it’s a fun track and after just one listen I could recite the chorus with ease. The type of track you can pull out your rock stance to, pick up that implement you call a ‘microphone’ and let loose.

Having listened to the album a number of times, I’d like to highlight a more punk-rock sound in the form of ‘Where it hurts’. The guitar playing is fast and fiddly, often mirroring the vocal lines, which feature alongside some snappy drum work. "I just want to grab you where it hurts" – a pleasant lyric I'm sure you’ll agree. It does mellow out mid-way through the song, relying heavily on the singer to keep the momentum of the song flowing until rhythmic explorations of all musicians bring this little ditty to a close.


If you are like me and favour a track which builds from start to finish, then you should cast your ears and eyes over ‘Start Again’. It is a deceptive little number, which feels as if it will continue down the path of ‘one man and his guitar’, however some beautiful sounding guitar slide work arrives, to produce a steady and charming sound. Drum’s and bass allow the track to build without driving the melodies into speeds which are either too fast or slow from the song’s original direction. There was some hope for an extended solo during the latter parts of ‘Start Again’, which would have really complimented the overall tonality and structure. However, this is not detrimental to the desired effect created.

To round off the album, you should take a listen to ‘Poison’, which feels reassuringly similar to previous songs, however the vocal style is somewhat captivating. Some great sounding drum rim-shots and sharp snaps completes the musical soundscape, bringing together the album and band’s ethos for ‘Play Thing’. The final sections of this song are some of the best and most skillful passages audible on the record and I really enjoyed listening to it.

I do like this album. I haven’t felt blown away by it, but I am certainly taken by their potential for bigger and better things. - AltSounds.com


maybe it’s the combination of that odd name with the wacky artwork that initially helped them draw in an audience ~ something they’ve certainly been doing in spades. But it’s the fact that these four guys blaze forth with a sense of rock that hearkens back to the days when combining genres was fresh and exciting that means when you pop in that CD, you are going to be rocked to your core by some killer music. - The Pulse Magazine


Review Links:

http://www.evolvingartist.com/View_CDReview.aspx?ID=223

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2004/07/14/202131.php

Artist: The Cringe
Title: Scratch The Surface
Genre: Rock-Alternative
Label: Listen Records
Website: http://www.thecringeband.com/

The Cringe sounds like The Smithereens meets Metallica, which would be an authoritative and heady combination in my estimation. They take the nod from classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin (who doesn’t?) but they have a biting alternative rock sound that is their very own. This band really cooks right along on their new album Scratch The Surface.

The opening track “Another Day” is pure dynamite; it explodes and demands your attention, which is a good setup for the rest of the CD. Tracks like “Burn” and “Blood” are spelled out very matter-of-factly and the lyrics don’t beat around the bush either.

John Cusimano has a great rock voice and Rob Levin plays one mean six-string, the only problem is Cusimano’s great pipes do not receive their due; they seem understated, almost toned down by the awesome force of the music. If the mix brought out his voice more to the front of their sound, which is fantastic mind you, this would be a five star recording. That is my observation, other than that this is a good album that should find plenty of eager listeners, I certainly found myself reaching for this CD quite a few times.

Rockin’ tunes from a band that is reaching for the stars, you can’t ask for much more than that. They play their asses off on this album and I really appreciated every track. Keep rockin’ dudes you really have something there, you are just scratching the surface of something big.

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
Vision Music USA, LLC
PO Box 650
Canton/MA/USA/02021

P: 877-269-4189
E: keith@visionmusicusa.net
W: http://www.visionmusicusa.com/
- Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck


John Cusimano, the vocalist and guitarist for The Cringe, spoke with me by phone about the band's newest release Plaything. This is the third release from the band and one that I feel is a bit heavier and a bit more aggressive than its predecessors. This CD definitely rocks. Every track is hook laden and it is easy to imagine just about every tune translating well into a live setting. The record is due out on June 8th and the band plan on hitting the road in support of it this summer. Here is what Cusimano had to say about The Cringe and Plaything.

Your brand new CD, Plaything is set for release on June 8th. Now that it is complete, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
John: I am very happy with it. I think it is certainly an album that we spent the most amount of time being picky about. We wrote rewrote and rearranged. We threw things out and added things in and we really collaborated more as a band on this record. We had a significant amount of input on from a good friend of mine whose name is Steve Lillywhite. He is a one of the top producers in all of rock for the last thirty years or so. We caught him in between other projects, he was working with a small Indie band from Ireland, I think they are called U2 or something. We would catch him in between a U2 record and a Phish record and when he had some time. He really spent some quality time with us in the studio to help take things to the next level.

How quick are you in the studio? Can you usually knock things out in a couple takes?
John: Getting the basic tracks down usually does not take that long but it depends on the songs. I would say a good portion of songs on the album are songs that we had performed live before audiences so we kind of knew what we wanted and what we needed to do. It is when you go back and do overdubs and when you start thinking about lyrics and melodies and arrangements that it takes a little bit more time. In addition, we also did this album in a scattershot sort of way. For the last two albums, we went into the studio for like a month and we would basically bang out the album out. For this one we were touring and we were sort of writing the album on the road so we recorded this album when we could over the course of a about a year and a half.

What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
John: I guess the writing process starts with me writing a bunch of demos. This is a very solitary process for me because I lock myself in a room with my guitar, sing and work on lyrics. Typically, I would go into the studio or use Garage Band to record the basic tracks and then I bring them to the guys in the band. From there it depends but some of the songs change a bit with the others adding their own stuff but the basic song structure is usually the same or similar to the original structure. Other songs we really rearrange them completely by taking bits and pieces from one song and combine them with another song that somebody else had written.

I went back and listened to some of your earlier stuff and to me it seems that Plaything is significantly heavier than your previous two discs. Was this something you were conscious of when writing or is it something that just happened naturally?
John: It was conscious. I wanted to make a heavy record. The last record Tipping Point, while a good record, tended to be a little more brooding and perhaps slower paced. With this record, I really wanted to come out swinging for the fences and make a really good rock record. Our new guitarist Roto grew up listening to Ritchie Blackmore and Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. He really brought that early 70’s hard rock sensibility to the band and the album.

Are there any tracks on Plaything that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
John: I really like the first single off of the album “No Control.” That was the first song that we recorded a year and a half ago. Another song off of the album that I have really been listening a lot to lately is a song called “Poison.” This is a good example of us sort of Frankenstiening a song together. I came up with the first part of the song, but all I had was this small part and I thought it would end up being just a transitional piece of a song; Roto came up with the middle instrumental section, which sounds totally different from what is at the beginning. What we ended up doing is taking my beginning, Roto’s middle part and then we used my beginning but made it heavier and louder and placed it in after Roto’s part.

Have you listened to any artists recently that have moved you?
John: I love the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and all of those bands. I also like Husker Du and The Who as well. I guess more recently I really dig Jack White; I really dig everything he is doing. I also like Queens Of The Stone age too.

How much roadwork do you plan on doing this year?
John: As much as we can. Without even really focusing on touring, we have been doing five to seven gigs a month. I imaging we will be spending a good amount of the summer touring. We are going to start around mid July and we are just gonna be out there doing it.

Any closing words John?
John: Buy Plaything you will not be disappointed. [ END ] - Pure Grain Audio


Discography

Scratch the Surface (Listen Records)

Tipping Point (Listen Records, Sony/RED)

Plaything June 2010 (Listen Records/Sony Red

Photos

Bio

There’s certainly some irony in the title to the Cringe’s new album, Hiding in Plain Sight, the band’s fourth and most accomplished. While the Lower Manhattan-based band has made a habit of opening very visible shows for bands like The New York Dolls, The Hold Steady, The Bravery and Fuel over the last eight years, they remain oddly under the radar of most rock cognoscenti, despite a devoted fan base and a remarkably active half-decade-plus career.

 

Perhaps that’s because the Cringe’s lyrical and melody-infused punk-prog approach flies in the face of the minimalist rock aesthetic that has dominated much of the past decade. Instead, the Cringe revel in the kind of rough-hewn textures, bold instrumental turns, and aggressive grooves that bands from Foo Fighters to Soundgarden let fly, while making albums with the type of studio zeal associated with album-rock giants like Radiohead and The Who. Indie-folk, they ain’t.

 

The band’s previous three albums—Scratch the Surface [2004], Tipping Point [2006] and Play Thing [2010]—won praise for what All-Music Guide called their “dynamic mix of artful, harmonic power pop and raw, aggressive punk garage-band energy,” for founding member John Cusimano’s “infectious and insightful songwriting,” and for the band’s “top-flight musicianship.” The Cringe were, said AMG, “this decade’s answer to the Foo Fighters,” a perfect mix of “blistering energy and thoughtful contemplation for these troubled times.”

 

The band has made believers of fellow artists like Bob Schneider, Vertical Horizon, and Sister Hazel, all of whom have invited the Cringe onto opening bills, as well as food celebrity Rachael Ray, who Cusimano married in 2005. Ray, a fervent alt-rock aficionado, stokes the crowd before her husband’s band takes the stage at Stubb’s each year during her immensely popular annual Feedback event in Austin, TX.

 

Perhaps that kind of wide-ranging support is one reason why Hiding in Plain Sight is such a significant artistic step up for the band, which features Cusimano (“JC” to his friends) on vocals, keyboards and rhythm guitar, celebrated drummer Shawn Pelton (SNL Band, Sheryl Crow,), lead guitarist and singer James “Roto” Rotondi (Mr. Bungle, Air, The Grassy Knoll) and bassist Jonny Blaze (Alice Smith); the band produced the album as a team, with engineering by Steve Hardy (Vertical Horizon) and mixing by Hardy and Jon Kaplan (Augustana, Parachute). For mastering, Cusimano turned to the legendary Emily Lazar, fresh off her award-winning work on the Foo’s Wasting Light.

 

From the down-and-dirty, D-Generation-style boogie rock of “Gotta Find A Way” to the Neil Young-like super ballad “Make Me Something,” the songs on Hiding in Plain Sight certainly do not hide their eclectic intentions. “Rushing Through the World,” an unholy alliance of Rage Against the Machine-era riff rock and King Crimson-style lattice-work, is an almost Buddhist appeal to turn inward before we blow up the outside world: “It’s a sin we all commit/We’re running from ourselves, lost again from where there’s stillness.”

 

Like some lost gem conjoining the guts of Raw Power with the headiness of Superunknown, “Get Me Some” tells a ‘70s-inspired New York story of 100-degreee summer nights and Alphabet City sleaze: “Bad blood downtown/picks me up and drags me down/sweating bullets like a loaded gun/Warm and dangerous all in one/I’m gonna get me some.” “Lord Jim,” with its stacks of minor chords and odd-time blues riffs, suggests Cream by way of Kyuss, its heaviosity underscored by lyrics that probe the terrors of a downward spiral: “The thunder moves/Your thumbs will screw/The black horse bears down on you.”

 

With powerful tracks like these, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for the Cringe to fly under the radar much longer. . . 

Band Members