Sonic Wave Love

Cutters

CMC International Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/18/1999

CMC International has a problem - namely, an image problem. Because they've dared to take chances with acts that other labels wouldn't want to touch because they're seen as being unmarketable, they've been called a label where old acts go to die. (This is all beside the fact that many of these groups have put out works that sound like new life has been breathed into them.)

So, the time has come for CMC to sign their first new artist - and the honor falls to Cutters, an Indiana-based quartet whose music is a cross between Collective Soul, Edwin McCain and Live. Their debut album, nbtc__dv_250 Sonic Wave Love, has many moments that show this is a band to watch in the future, but one does find themselves withing that the band would try and develop their own unique voice.

The group - vocalist/guitarist Tommy Berry, bassist Ron Calder, keyboardist Bill Maki and drummer Pete Wilhoit - come out of the gate strong with the first single "Satisfied". The energy level and songwriting ability of the band is impressive, showing that Cutters are more than just a cookie-cutter band mimicking the flavor of the week. The opening effects alone are worth the price of admission - Sonic indeed!

So where do some of the other artist comparisons I mentioned come into play? When I hear tracks like "Hero," the flavor of Collective Soul is heard in both the harmony of the vocals and the tempos of the songs. When tracks like "Watching" come on, the acoustic backbone of the song, combined with Berry's vocals, conjures up comparisons to Edwin McCain and "I'll Be" (even though I know that "Watching" is a faster tempoed number). On still others like "As I Fly," the Live influence enters in with the jangly guitars and the hints of more offbeat chords being used at times.

All of this is well and good, and other tracks like "Genie" and "Gilgamesh" all serve as further testament to the talent that is in Cutters. But where Sonic Wave Love eventually develops its weakness is that Cutters never do really develop their own unique style, even though what they're doing is by no means ripping off the other mentioned artists.

Developing a band's own unique style and sound is possibly the toughest "growing pain" that any act has to go through - and I've heard too many over the years, good and bad, who just were never able to clear this hurdle. But this is where Cutters have an advantage; already an act with some road scars to talk about, I don't think it will be long before the band will carve their own path in the pop/rock world.

Until that day comes, Sonic Wave Love is a pleasant enough starting point for the band, and is an album that is worth your attention - as well as a fighting chance to get heard on the radio.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.