The Calamity Cubes
The Calamity Cubes’ second album, Long Cold Winter, sounds like it drifted straight from the campground at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, soaked in sweat, alcohol and a hint of something toxic — maybe gasoline or propane. Using guitar, upright bass and banjo, the Cubes employ a lean attack, though they’ll use a didgeridoo if the situation calls for it. Their voices rarely mix, separating and bouncing off one another like a group of hoarse street preachers competing for a crowd’s attention. Yes, these are story songs, and the stories are often tragedies. In “Delia Rose,” the narrator tries to escape from his girlfriend’s murderous father, only to find that the father killed his girlfriend instead of him. In “Ace in the Wall,” the hero fares better. His lover leaves him and then burns up with her new man in a fiery car crash. With its revenge fantasies, battle hymns, murder ballads, and bathroom-wall love stories, Long Cold Winter finds the Calamity Cubes carrying on the rough-edged folk and bluegrass traditions of great Kansas bands such as Split Lip Rayfield and Drakkar Sauna.