REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

CUZ are here with interesting collaboration, 'Tamatebako'.

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

CUZ sees sometimes Stooge Mike Watt (also of Minutemen and fIREHOSE fame) in an unlikely collaboration with Go! Teamster Sam Dook and the results are certainly interesting!


CUZ - Tamatebako (Out  digitally 12/05/2014, physically 19/05/2014 via Bleeding Hearts Records)

CUZ is what happens when Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, The Stooges) and Sam Dook (The Go! Team) meet at Big Day Out festival, bond over Watt’s homemade chilli sauce and then spend the next eight years meeting up when tour schedules permit, sharing ideas through Skype over several continents, and come together in a pretty cool, much unexpected, collaboration. ‘Tamatebako’ was initially supposed to be released as a Record Store Day treat but sadly a vinyl pressing issue meant it wasn’t out in time. Pity, because it’s exactly the kind of rare offering that would go down a storm on such an event. Inspired by Japanese folk-lore, ‘Tamatebako’ is certainly an eclectic record, perhaps verging in to a touch strange at times, but then when you look at who the collaborators are, what else is to be expected? A Tamatebako is, apparently, an origami puzzle box that was featured in ‘Urashima Tarō’; a Japanese legend about a fisherman rescuing a turtle. Pretty neat, huh? It’s a pretty appropriate album name too, as I feel the pieces don’t quite fit together, and I’m pretty sure if I made an origami puzzle box it would be pretty interesting but wouldn’t quite work. There is a lack of cohesion here, and something feels a little off, but given the eight year time span and multi-continent long distance nature of the record, I think expecting a higher level of cohesion is perhaps me asking too much. Saying that, there are several tracks on the album I really like. The two openers, ‘Houdini’ and ‘France Gnarl’ have a great poppy feel to them, with roving bass lines and jig-inpsiring beats.  ‘France Gnarl’ in particular really grabbed me and made me think I was going to enjoy this record, but whilst it was a highlight it wasn’t a typical example. My favourite song has to be a toss between title track ‘Tamatebako’ which features Go! Team’s Kaori Tsuchida sweet vocals singing about that little rescued turtle, or ‘Fickle Fortune’ which sounds like it would be at home on a Graham Coxon record; lo-fi, dreamy and all acoustic and bitter-sweet sounding. In fact, Coxon would be an excellent guest on this album; if we could inject his pop-rock sensibilities and guitar noise, it would make the record a bit more tangible and exciting for me. Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said, there are some real winning moments and songs I loved, but other tracks just don’t do it for me (see:  ‘Song For Ronnie’ which to me sounds like someone apathetically reading a book over some wonky jazz). For me, it is an album of two halves – one half I will listen to again and enjoy, and the other that I don’t think I quite “get”. I would hazard a guess that those with a penchant for the more obscure would greatly enjoy this record and that my aversion to the less accessible tracks is down to my taste, as most things in this world are. As much as I try, I simply fall short when it comes to the more left of centre musical offerings.  I guess I need my songs to have more symmetry and will pitch my tent in the “don’t quite get it” camp. 6.5/10