It’s been a few years since I listened to Cousin Dud. I checked them out in the bizarre Viaduct Theatre back in 2011 (and now it’s even more weirdly an art gallery that hosts ballets and folks like Melvin Van Peebles). I dug the music and thought their debut record was pretty good, but not something I wanted to listen to on repeat for any length of time. I certainly didn’t expect their next full-length to be a boisterous but complex half hour of music covered from front to back with bouncy guitar and sly lyrics. One of the happier surprises I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing so far in this short year.
The Faded feels almost like a nu-Americana take on Springsteen’s Born To Run. An anthemic coming-of-age record for the milennials overflowing with nods to rock and roll history. The words may not hit quite as hard as The Boss’s, but the feeling is there. Even the saxophone solos feel lifted straight from Clarence’s soul.
My favorite song on the record is “Wilco (Down By The River).” I was skeptical at first, as I am about any song that name checks a band right in the title, but the message being delivered by Cousin Dud is never more beautiful than the last lines of this number: “damned if god don’t love a good song/girl you had me singin’ from the start/long as they make records we can never be apart/but a chorus ain’t got nothin’ on you.” It’s the most simple song on the whole album, but it says more with very little than a lot of rambling tunes ever could.
The band knows how to work on the midwestern, blue collar pathos as well as anyone. Titus Andronicus is the only band I can think of that does it any better right now. Words can’t really do justice to the level of improvement The Faded shows over Cousin Dud’s earlier work. When I saw them before I thought they were fine-worth checking out but not something I would get deeply invested in. With this album I’m completely turned around. It could be one of the best albums of the year and I definitely recommend you pick it up.
This Friday, March 14th, Cousin Dud will be playing a show for the release of The Faded at The Empty Bottle. Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers) headlines the bill and they will also be joined by Old Grand Dad and Reins. Tickets are $10, available HERE and at the door. You can hear the whole album now, and purchase it from the groups Bandcamp page.