I never heard of Cubic Feet before now but according to the CD jacket of its new two-disc set, The Living End – Then and Now, it has been around since 1991. The first disc, subtitled Then, is its music from 1991 to 2001, while the second disc, Now, is its new material.
To be honest, I like music from Then better than Now. I popped the Then CD into my computer and was immediately pulled in by the band’s charm. It starts off with a catchy tune, “Save the World,” which reminded me of the best songs from the 1980s. The lyrics reminded me of the TV show Heroes because of the chorus, “Have to save the world, nothing can happen to the girl.” It’s the type of song that really gets you out of your chair.
The second song on the CD, “Across the River,” also keeps you moving and I loved Davison’s voice on it. I found it to be both soothing and inviting.
“Better Pill” reminded me of the early days of R.E.M. It has a steady rock beat with a sophisticated folky alt-rock sound. Next, “Natasha” continued the mood with its take on ’80s New Age.
I found the entire disc to be extremely accessible and upbeat and with strong hooks. The band was tight and the vocals thoughout were warm and pleasing. At first listen I felt as if I knew these songs. After a few times, I was singing the chorus of many of the tunes. I really enjoyed this solid disc, especially the first two songs.
But when I listened to Now, I wasn’t as excited. Most of the songs weren’t as upbeat as the Then album. Many were about lost love and breaking up.
My favorite song on this album was “The Living End,” which is basically the title track of the two-disc set. It had soaring harmonies and the harmonica playing gave it a special sound that mixed well with the vocals.
“Hard on You” reminded me of a country song. Actually, many of the songs on the Now album sounded more country than rock. This was a real departure from the earlier songs
My least favorite song was “19 Again.” It was just a depressing song with minor notes that brought me down and tried to keep me there.
“Brand New Day” could have been on the Then album. It thankfully brought back their earlier vibe and seemed to provide a glimpse into the minds of both Davison and Lissauer, especially when they sang:
“All I need is a brand new day
Nothing up my sleeve
But I’m on my way
It’s ok I know I’m not dreaming.”
“Tumblin’ Down” reminded me of a song from the Doobie Brothers. It had a southern rock blend to it with dueling guitars and strong drumming.
Taken together, this CD set is worth checking out. I didn’t find the Now to be as memorable as the Then album, but there were some good songs on it. The sound is not new but if you like the tunes from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, you will really enjoy The Living End!
Cubic Feet is Mark Davison on lead vocals and guitar and Woody Lissauer on guitar and background vocals. The band also consists of Brian Simms on keyboards and accordion, Peter Solley on keyboards, Mike Mennell on bass, Bronson Wagner on bass, Keith Cronin on drums and Mark St. Pierre on percussion. Davison and Lissauer wrote all the songs.