There are a couple of big, good options as far as music goes in Regina tonight. For one, the Pack A.D. are playing O’Hanlon’s tonight. (And that is our cover story this issue, too.)
You also have Cuff the Duke coming through the Exchange, touring behind the recently released Union. The album is the second of a two-album themed set of songs, the first being last year’s Morning Comes.
I don’t have much by way of charting any kind of narrative in these two records, not that the Oshawa, Ontario band was making their own Tommy here or anything. If they did want to do more than dip their toes in concept album waters, no one would say they don’t have the experience for it. With a band member change here and there, Cuff the Duke has been together since 2001.
The second track off Morning Comes, “You Don’t Know What It’s Like”, actually reminds a lot of their breakout album, their 2005 self-titled effort. It shares a hooky chorus and the same propulsive alt-country that that earlier, poppier album of theirs had. Morning Comes has its fair share of instantly grabbing songs. They also have an honest-to-goodness near eight minute song on there, “Bound to Your Vices”, “honest-to-goodness” because the runtime is bolstered by a two-minute solo or anything.
The last three songs on Morning Comes presage what’s to come. They’re a little sadder, a little darker. The final track, “Letting Go”, could just as easily be a part of Union.
Union doesn’t have a big stomping opener. Instead, “Live My Life” is more of a mid-tempo contemplation, with vocalist Wayne Petti pleading “I just want to live my life in my own time.” Part of Union feels like Petti was writing in reaction to Morning Comes, forsaking big choruses and the like in favour of simply solid songs. There’s no equivalent to “Bound to Your Vices” here. Instead, we get some of their most self-assured song craft to date.
Cuff the Duke are playing tonight, October 6 at the Exchange. Regina’s Left English open.