Un monumento, né più né meno. Parliamo dei Cynics, 35 anni di carriera alle spalle e una discografia da ripassare a memoria per capire di cosa si parla, quando si parla di garage-rock. Dai tempi di “Blue Train Station” ad oggi, Gregg Kostelich e soci non fanno altro che ricordare e ricordarci quella che è l’essenza di un suono che affonda le radici nei mid-sixties e arriva indenne e in salute al 2019. E scusate se è poco. Purezza, passione, vigore e talento: questi sono i Cynics, che tornano dopo 12 anni sul palco del Festival Beat per impartirci l’ennesima lezione. Bentornati, maestri.
Formed in 1983 by Get Hip Recordings owner Gregg Kostelich, The CYNICS are a Garage-Punk institution.
Guitarist/producer/record company head Gregg Kostelich is the frenetic force behind THE CYNICS. He managed to keep the band afloat in the wake of constant personnel changes, he recorded some of the finest garage tracks ever, and also launched one of the best independent record labels of the 1980s. THE CYNICS’ style has been clear since their 1983 inception: fuzzed ultra-distorted guitar, screaming, moaning vocals, with a straight-ahead no frills rhythm section. The influences are extreme ‘60s Punk, R&B, and other loud, frantic trash. Gregg has occasionally steered the band into flirtations with folk-rock and little pop, but it’s the grunged-out punkers that have created THE CYNICS’ reputation. Their first two 45s were released by the Californian Dionysus label, but soon after Gregg had established his own Pittsburgh-based GET HIP RECORDINGS who would release all of THE CYNICS albums and singles, as well as those by countless great garage, punk-rock and power-pop releases by other bands from around the globe.
Though Gregg’s guitar is the backbone of the band, vocalist Michael Kastelic’s contribution to THE CYNICS sound cannot be underestimated. In concert (and on record) he screeches, wails, and moans with great abandon, while his frail, thin body shakes throughout the room. Michael is a truly possessed frontman.
Since the 2007 recording in Spain of the band’s 7th full-length album, Here We are, The CYNICS have been graced with a fantastic and powerful rhythm section of two talented musicians from Asturias (Spain): Angel Kaplan and Pablo Gonzalez. They have been touring relentlessly with the band since and also joined Gregg and Michael in Detroit for the recording of their latest album, SPINNING WHEEL MOTEL (2012) under the masterful direction of Jim Diamond .
In an interview on March 21, 1986, Gregg Kostelich said “I was maybe 4 or 5 when I started collecting Garage records, and I’ve been listening to that type of music ever since. And I was lucky enough to see a couple of shows I was a little kid…my parents would bring to see bands like THE SONICS and THE BLUE MAGOOS and THE WHO, when I was about 7 or 8! I didn’t know what was going on really, but it was really exciting. I was kinda embarrassed in a way because I was with my parents.” When I mentioned that this early exposure to garage music explained THE CYNICS style, Gregg responded “Yeah, maybe I got brain damage from all the noise!”
The Cynics “Spinning Wheel Motel” ~MICHAEL TOLAND / BLURT ONLINE
The ever-magnificent Cynics long ago blew past the borders of any box marked "garage rock." Sure, the Pittsburgh quartet still likes to hew to certain ‘60s values of recording - stripped down, straightforward, performance-oriented. But longtime leaders Michael Kastelic (vocals) and Gregg Kostelich (guitar) never wrote mere pastiches designed to evoke memories of shitty clubs in Germany - they've always crafted actual songs, with strong melodies and lyrics that range from witty to angry to poignant and all points in between.
In other words, the Cynics aren't revivalists, but traditionalists, with said tradition treated as being as relevant in 2011 as it was in 1966. Spinning Wheel Motel, the band's seventh record and first since 2007's Here We Are, is evidence of that - this is the Cynics' best LP since their landmark 1989 slab Rock ‘n' Roll. With a cache of tunes strong even by Kastelic/Kostelich standards, the band is at its most versatile here, gracing the grooves with snarling psychedelia ("Zombie Walk"), jaunty pop ("Junk") and, most especially, divine folk rock ("Circles, Arcs and Swirls," "Bells and Trains," the title track) that reveals just what the Cynics can do with these kind of elegiac melodies.
That's not to say the band has forgotten the barnburners on which it built its reputation - "Crawl," "I Need More" and the celebratory "Rock Club" would rock the balls off a Greek statue. In its nearly three-decade history, the Cynics have rarely flagged; even so, it's heartening to hear the band hit yet another career peak on Spinning Wheel Motel after so many years of service.