THE CRINGE MAKES HARD-HITTING DEBUT WITH
SCRATCH THE SURFACE
Formed in New York City a little over a year ago, The Cringe came about as the result of four guys getting together to exorcise their rock and roll demons with a little help from memories of the artists they have listened to since they were kids. From Hüsker Dü to the Beatles, The Ramones to John Coltrane, and Television to Les Claypool, it is a wide variety of artists that can be found on the list of influences flaunted by The Cringe, and it shows. But this is not just another overly derivative project where you'll find a hint of this here and a touch of that there, because The Cringe somehow manages to take a wide variety of influences and melt them into one unique musical product.
The band's debut album, Scratch the Surface, does not waste any time delivering the goods. Nor is it shy about showing off the band's impressive range of abilities. The opening track, "Another Day," begins with a bit of spacey psychedelia that pulls you in and puts you in a soothed state of mind. But don't get too comfortable, because you'll soon be banging your head and tapping your toes the minute the first verse kicks in, with its crunchy guitar chords, pummeling rhythms, and hook-laden lead guitar and vocals. Switching things up yet again is the infectious chorus that follows, and you'll more than likely find yourself humming along even after just one listen.
But the opening punch of "Another Day" isn't all The Cringe has to offer. The band spends the remainder of the album flaunting its skills in all the right ways. There are slightly more psychedelic and jam-based songs like "Been Alone" and "Too Many Problems," as well as more hypnotic and lulling ballads like "Empty Table," "Kiss Me When You're Dead" and "Blood." There are punk-tinged blasts like "I Don't Know" and "Life That You Choose," as well as infectious pop-rockers like "Far Away" and "On and On." Needless to say, the band is not one that cares to be considered easily predictable. Some songs, such as the far-reaching "Grave," go as far as touching upon several of these styles at once, while still maintaining the strong sense of togetherness that is a definite highlight of the album.
In addition, the band refuses to rely on anything it hasn't created itself. There is no glossy overproduction and no synthetic instrumentation, just a strong sense of musicianship and a wholly organic feel to every song. Bassist Matt Powers and drummer Shawn Pelton play off of each other like they have been doing this for ages, providing the strong platforms upon which the rest of the songs are built. Singer and guitarist John Cusimano has the sort of voice that makes his words easily accessible and he writes songs that give off the same sort of vibe, but he is not the sort of front man to insist that all of the attention be focused on him. He knows that he is surrounded by three equally talented musicians, and he is not afraid to let the spotlight roam. Meanwhile, lead guitarist Rob Levin punctuates every song with just the right number of blazing solos to keep the rest of the band on its toes.
Best of all, the album manages to capture some of the intensity of The Cringe's live show. The band recently raised the bar for itself by dishing out a stellar performance at Sunfest 2004 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Making the most of an opening slot for The Doors of the 21st Century, The Cringe worked the crowd into a frenzy, eventually bringing things to a memorable climax by sending one young fan home with Cusimano's guitar. Though it is difficult to imagine any band being able to walk into a studio and reach that same energy level, Scratch the Surface comes awfully close.
For additional information please visit The Cringe website at www.thecringeband.com.
To request an interview with the band, please contact Rhonda Kelley at Rainmaker Publicity, Tel: 617-889-4122; email: RKelley283@aol.com.