The Cynics | Here We Are (Get Hip)

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cd_cynics.jpgOnce again affirming their distinctive garage sound with Here We Are, The Cynics have managed to synthesize the same fuzzy 1960s style appeal that has been their trademark with lyrical sophistication that can only be described as thoughtful exploration of their already established raw talent. Think of the music itself as a broadsword and the lyrics as a scalpel.




Pittsburgh in the mid-1980s saw the beginning of The Cynics when founding members Gregg Kostelich and Michael Kastelic detoured out of their punk-rock roots and into punk's illegitimate parent, 1960s garage rock (indeed, often referred to as '60s punk). Released on Kostelich's own independent label, Here We Are is the culmination of over 20 years of evolving style and musical expressions of unrequited attraction, dejection, and loneliness. These elements, while injecting a sad note into the lyrics, are pulled off without forcing the listener into the receiving end of a litany of plaintive cries and complaints, but rather with identification to the audience.

During the title track, it is made clear that the "we" in "Here We Are" is all-inclusive with the declaration "Here we are with ourselves/ here we are without friends/ here we are again" and the lyrics are sung with a voice that is best likened to Rod Stewart if he were still really hip. While the garage styling of the band doesn't fully come through in this track, it is still indicative of the band's roots with an upbeat musical style contrasted against decidedly forlorn lyrics such as "I once was a rover/ Now I'm just alone/ so seldom sober but/ dry as a bone." The second track "Coming 'Round My Way" is where the band's familiar dynamic sound rears its head and offers up steady yet fuzzy guitar punctuations throughout the song.

"The Warning" and its following track "Me Wanting Her" both meld semblances of middle-of-their-career Monkees with semi-obscure garage legends Yard Trauma into a goulash of songs that sound perky when the listener isn't paying attention to what's being sung. An entirely different layer is added when the lyrics reveal anger and desperation that is related to the listener in a sing-song voice. The real gems of the album and those tracks which best typify the hard-edged, scruffy sound that appeals so much to fans of garage rock, are found in "Hard to Please" and "What She Said." The almost primitive simplicity of "Hard to Please" with its hypnotic redundancy and buzzing distorted guitar riffs is cut with the more complex effrontery found in "What She Said" with the assertion, "Take a look at the sign hanging on my back/ step away 'cause my knife's gonna cut the slack."

With this release, The Cynics not only redefine but also reassert themselves and retain the factors that made them great in the first place: gritty honesty and a level of cool that hasn't faded in their twenty odd years of history. Well-composed sounds provide the perfect platform on which to drop a soapbox for the ideas contained in the lyrics to be sung from. A | Jason Neubauer

RIYL: The Stooges, Yard Trauma, The Fuzztones, Thee Headcoats

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