The reissue of their debut album means 10 years have passed for the Oshawa, ON band, and with a new album coinciding (Union) this week, it’s a fitting time for fans both new and old to hear where it all started. Folk/Country groups face a tough time trying to hit the right notes with both genres, rather than neither. Upon hearing their debut Life Stories for Minimum Wage, you can tell that Cuff the Duke has been on the right track for a long time.
There are so many different types of song on LSfMW. “Hey Baby” sounds like some sort of diet Hotel Yorba by the White Stripes. Hobo Night Stalker is very sneaky, with a jarring beat while still keeping true to their sound. “Long Winter” sounds like the soundtrack to that scene where everyone looks wistfully out the window (in a good way). “Ballad Of A Lonely Construction Worker” has a funny name, but a great sound. Singer Wayne Petti captures so much emotion in his voice, a task difficult in a rock-tinged epic. “Anti-social” has so much going on; the cacophony mirrors the content. Closer “The Trouble and the Truth” feels like a spaghetti western, thanks to the whistling intro. It’s as if the hero is bleeding in the street and the credits are rolling, a fitting end to a sublime album.
They’re on tour now, playing Vancouver on October 18th. Oshawa should be proud of these boys.