LA's The Leftover Cuties and local act Chris Koza played the Dakota Jazz Club's this Wednesday night.
Chris Koza is an acoustic guitar player and singer. He specializes in songs that tell a story. He opened with "Healer." The highlight of the set was "Handful of Glass" a moody ballad about love and uncertainty singing, "You could love just anyone/oh, but maybe just anyone could love you."
The Leftover Cuties didn't just grace the stage ... they owned it! Bringing in unlikely and whimsical instruments such as the ukulele, an accordion, a French horn, a trumpet - and even a bird call, the quartet enchanted the audience.
Shirli McAllen on vocals sang a sultry, and at times dark, alto. She swayed to each song and requested crowd participation through rhythmic clapping. Her voice is reminiscent of Swedish singer Miss Li. She costars with bassist Austin Nicholsen who plays music with his entire body. He often is pulling faces like a Tex Avery cartoon while strumming and dancing along to the music. Stuart Johnson on drums and miscellaneous percussion (read: bird call, horn, bells etc.) was equally entertaining to watch, while Mike Bolger on piano, trumpet and accordion remained the more serious of the group. He was either engulfed in the moment of the music or serious is just his resting face.
They started off in the Dakota Jazz Club with a quiet and attentive audience, bringing up the old cliche "Minnesota Nice." The second song of the night was a retro, toe-tapping "Places To Go" complete with barbershop-like harmonizing. Off their upcoming album The Spark & The Fire, they played "What's the Matter?" "Thick and Thin," "Clarity" and "One Heart." All of which feature the key elements of great music: relatable lyricism, alluring vocals, and well-timed humor. With the random, and expertly coordinated sound effects - it feels like you're in on some sort of inside joke with the band. The Spark & The Fire will be released July 23, 2013 and is well worth a listen.
Along with new songs, The Leftover Cuties also played three covers. They played a sad, break-up-song-like ballad of the children's nursery song "You Are My Sunshine," a fantastic Regina Spektor cover of "Fidelity" as well as a less synthesized more nostalgic "Pokerface" ala Lady Gaga.
Their more well-known tunes "Smile Baby" from the Samsung Superbowl commercial and the theme to HBO's Big C, "Game Called Life" filled the ears of clubgoers. But, the real standout song of the night was "Sunnyside" which leads you through a rollercoaster of tempo and emotion.
Keep an eye on The Leftover Cuties. July 23, 2013 is the release of The Spark & The Fire. Hopefully their tour will wind back through Minneapolis again, because I'd gladly revisit.