Oakland's The Cuts seem to live in another era, mining a milder interpretation of Nugget-styled psychedelic/garage rock. Calculated? No. Derivative? Yes. But then everything in rock'n'roll is ultimately derived from something else. It's not what is played but what you do with it. And The Cuts are, well, a cut above most: no worse and certainly better than scores of bands that revere Sixties and Seventies rock. On the quartet's sophomore release, you can readily tell that keyboardist Dan Aaberg, singer/guitarist Andy Jordan, drummer/guitarist Garett Godard and bassist Carlos Palacios have meticulously studied and absorbed all the good stuff from 1962 to 1982. The Cuts natural looseness appears out of place with contemporary material that can take years and five or six figure amounts to create. The difference makes for an engaging listening experience. You can hear The Cuts love what they are doing and are sincere about it. Jordan's clipped vocals are undeniably similar to Tom Verlaine, though Jordan has more a sympathetic delivery and also avoids Verlaine's New York City vagabond lyricism. The Cuts, too, echo Television's twin-guitar forte, relying on wooly, distorted chord changes rather than anthemic riffs. However, Aaberg's adroit keyboards add a steadfast distinction, bringing to mind Jerry Harrison or late Sixties Manfred Man. The eleven cuts on 2 Over Ten nod to plenty of musical heroes. Bluesy titles such as Electric Rite- and The Early Bird- have a whiskey-laced Faces aspect, the soft-rocker Dreams- evokes Bread or badfinger, while the rosy Paradise- could easily have fallen off an Of Montreal record. If you ever wondered what the Flamin' Groovies crossed with Television would sound like this is the closest you'll ever get. And frankly, The Cuts do it well enough. Someday somebody will probably plunder a Cuts disc for inspiration. What comes around, goes around. (Doug Simpson)
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