Record Review: Cy Dune (Seth Olinsky of Akron/Family) – “Shake”
Akron/Family vocalist/guitarist Seth Olinsky is all around a pretty rad fella. Beyond being in the aforementioned widely loved and respected band, Olinsky also the runs Lighting Records with conceptual artist and musician Ali Beletic. Beyond putting out releases from such notable acts as Wooden Wand and William Tyler, Lighting has also served as Olinsky’s outlet for his releases as Cy Dune, his hard-rocking alter ego that just yesterday released Shake, his second record under the moniker.
Shake was largely inspired by Dan Graham’s 1984 film Rock My Religion, which examines rock n’ roll as an art form, and compares it to the development of the Shaker religion. Listening to the record, it’s easy to see how Olinsky drew inspiration from the film’s subject matter, as Shake is filled top to bottom with basic, visceral, straight up rock n’ fuckin’ roll that’s served without a chaser and meant to make you shake your ass. Cars, sex and women fill the subject matter, and one could envision Cy Dune touring with The Eagles Of Death Metal, an act similar both in sound and in its genesis. Dune seems like the kind of fella who could really, really relate to “Lawyers, Guns & Money”.
Shake is comprised of sparse, direct instrumentation that is largely used to express the narrator’s desire to live fast, die young and to do so with as many foxy ladies in tow as possible. Olinsky isn’t reinventing the wheel here, and that’s certainly not the point. Cy Dune seems to be his way of escaping the uber-hip climates and expectations of Brooklyn and Portland (and Akron/Family) and heading to the desert to plug in, turn on and just straight up rock the fuck out. After a year of kicking around the varies ideas and sounds on the record, Shake was recorded over the course of just three days at an “art retreat” in Joshua Tree, a time frame and setting that are completely befitting such an album. Each arrangement on Shake is wonderfully simple and totally effective, as not single a note is wasted and it’s nearly impossible to keep still while playing the record.
This is especially true during the bravado-filled record’s fantastic mid-album five song stretch that begins with the mid-tempo “come hither” number “Hold My Hand” and ends with the burning hot Velvets-recalling “Dig Dig Dig”. “Dig Dig Dig” is indicative of everything that makes this record such a fun listen: it’s the kind of song basically every rock band has wished they could write since they first heard The Velvet Underground, and the kind of song almost every band gets wrong. It’s sexual, tinged with danger and recklessness and filled with a confident, effortless swagger that’s impossible to fake.
Overall Shake sounds like it was a breath of fresh air for Olinsky, a refreshing project that was truly a labor of love and one that was genuinely fun to create. His enjoyment in taking on the Cy Dune persona is palpable throughout the record, and you feel as though he’s bringing you along for the debauched ride with him, which makes for a very satisfying listen. Shake is the kind of record you play loud, driving at a high speed through the desert in a car with no top, away from the home of one woman you shouldn’t have been with, and headed towards the abode of yet another (I’m picturing a “dancer” named Roxy Valentine with an affinity for Johnnie Walker, tattoos and bad decisions). In other words: a little dangerous and a hell of a lot of fun.
Cy Dune — 2014 Tour Dates:
Oct 13 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA*
Oct 14 Largo at the Coronet Los Angeles, CA*
Oct 16 The Barns at Wolf Trap Vienna, VA*
Oct 18 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY*
Oct 20 The Parlor Room Northampton, MA*
* – supporting Sam Amidon
An invigorating shot of shake-your-ass rock n' roll.