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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 152 - 02/09/09

El Cuero
A Glimmer of Hope
Gravel Road Music

A Glimmer of Hope is the second album from El Cuero, a band that has embraced the torn-up-speaker distortion courtesy of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Weld era, to such a degree that they might be called copycats. Or you may choose to view them as heavily inspired. Anyway, they are doing a great job at this. Anybody who likes listening to Weld will probaly enjoy a few of the songs on A Glimmer of Hope. I say "a few", because large parts of the album is made up of more forgettable straight country songs that place them in the shadow of for instance fellow countrymen Hellbillies.

Herein lays the problem, in spite of the terrific start with "The Road Goes On", because whenever they're not into Weld-territory, it all gets less interesting, and of course, if their main forte is sounding like somebody else, they may end up being viewed as not much more than a cover band. The use of a string quartet on some songs is a good move, but not enough to lift these songs up from mediocrity. Madrugada had a singer with a voice that could save a mediocre song on his own, but this is not the case with El Cuero, so regrettably the result is either too unoriginal or too uninteresting. Which is sad, because the musicianship is excellent.

That said, I would love to spend a Saturday night at an El Cuero concert - I would not be surprised if El Cuero are a great live experience. Although I haven't exactly raved about this album, it is solid work all the way through. Who knows - perhaps the songs will grow with repeated listenings, but hopefully they are able to improve on their songwriting for their next release. Still, the double vinyl edition of the album is technically and aesthetically magnificient!

Copyright © 2009 Knut Tore Breivik e-mail address

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