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Chuck Cleaver

Shake-It Records, 2019

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Holy cow, finally! The long-revered leader of Wussy and one of my favorite bands, Ass Ponys, has finally released his first solo record. Taking on a heavier tone than the previous Wussy records, Cleaver returns to his fuzzed-out rock roots. The quickness of “Terrible Friend” reminds me of some of Ass Ponys’ darker material. “Devil May Care” is a great little jam and a way to showcase Cleaver’s ability to craft some strange and sometimes eerie poppy rock tunes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“The Weekend That It Happened” showcases a different approach to Cleaver’s music. Sounding like a Beck jam circa 1999 with a drum machine and down-to-earth lyrics, the song works really well and stands out from the other material for all the right reasons. “Bed” is another great song; even with drum machines, Cleaver’s undeniable pop sensibility cannot be denied. What we have here is just a great rock singer/songwriter without all the pizzazz of having eighteen songwriters and ten producers helping you out.

“Flowers & The Devil” sounds like a great Wussy track – but of course it does, one can almost instantly tell one of Cleaver’s songs from his various bands because of his distinct characteristics that are sprinkled over every melody. Cleaver is just a great unheralded singer/songwriter/guitarist, and it’s about time he gets some recognition for the musical gifts he’s given us.

The album closes with a cheerful little ditty called “Folk Night at Fucky’s,” which is evident towards Cleaver’s offbeat sense of humor. The track is a toss off, but it helps to make this record whole, and even with a short running time of 29 minutes, it still feels complete. The only – literally only – complaint is that there could have been a few more tracks to make this disc even better. But at the same time, this is one of the best singer/songwriter discs of the year.

Rating: A-

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