By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
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Hicksville rockers Cardinal show what it takes to get the attention of a web surfer. Besides their picture, a healthy selection of twelve songs from their two CDs is available for download. At the outset, diversity appears to be this band's specialty: Their songs are listed in the pop, power pop, rock & roll, avant rock, art rock and math rock categories. Quite a bit of genre bending for just one group.
Under "power pop," the opening strains of "Tanya" recall the piano-tinged solos of Styx vocalist Dennis DeYoung. When singer/keyboardist PJ Cardinal intones, "Tanya, turn down your stereo," it's easy to understand why. "Everybody Dies" sounds much happier than the title might suggest, a musical decaffeinated caramel-coffee beverage: "Surprise!/It's time that you got wise/to inescapable demise/did you ever stop and realize?/that everybody dies." Truer words could not be spoken, until "Anything But Time." Just when you thought that the '70s band America had never influenced a single soul, Cardinal goes through the desert on a horse with no taste"Oh jeez! I've got too many things on my mind but I can give you anything but time," advice to which one can immediately relate.
According to the write-up on the website, Cardinal's newest CD, Ora et Labora, "marks a quantum leap in the band's abilities to arrange, to play, and to record." The arrangements are orchestrated throughout, with plenty of harmonies, drum fills and searing guitar leads. This band isn't afraid to push the higher registers and the multi-layered tracks. Heck, even over a shaky Internet connection, Cardinal's songs refuse to be ignored.
There's a certain lost value in much of today's music that Cardinal still retains. You can see it in the band's publicity photo. Maybe it's a certain rock attitude. It gets harder every day to find four average dudes getting together and playing songs. After listening to Cardinal, there is no doubt it's a band. In the '80s, power-pop bands like Night Ranger and Sheriff ruled the charts with the same type of dramatic posturing. The audience is certainly still available to Cardinal. With the power of the Net, maybe its members can find it.
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