The Cringe Returning With New Album in June

Having just returned from a successful string of shows at SXSW, The Cringe—singer/songwriter/guitarist John Cusimano, lead guitarist James Rotondi (ex-Air, Mr. Bungle), bassist Jonny Matias (ex-Crash Moderns) and drummer Shawn Pelton ("Saturday Night Live" Band, Bruce Springsteen)—are now looking into the future with the release of their third album, Play Thing, due out June 8 on Listen Records. The focus tracks "No Control," "Hiding Space" and "Where It Hurts" are currently being serviced to radio stations nationwide.

Recorded with longtime engineer Steve Hardy (Vertical Horizon, The Upwelling), and with input from legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, XTC), Play Thing was anything but kid stuff in the studio. "You wouldn't know it from the title," laughs Cusimano, "but, as fun as it could be, making Play Thing was definitely not always a playful process. We didn't let anything go until we were all 100% behind it, and that required a lot of extra sweat and tears. But we truly believe that the end result makes it all completely worth the effort."

As guitarist James Rotondi continues: "Of all the talents and energies he brings into the studio, perhaps the one most unique to Steve Lillywhite is his ability to suggest seemingly small changes in structure or arrangement that, in fact, utterly transform a song, move it from being merely appealing to being highly distinctive, and which help etch a song's character into the listener's memory. There are hundreds of examples from his previous projects—the piano bit on U2's "New Year's Day" is a good example—but to benefit from that kind of instinct firsthand in a studio environment…well, that was both a thrill and an education, and our album is the better because of it."

Driven by the gutsy lead vocals and savvy songwriting of Cusimano (husband of TV personality Rachael Ray), The Cringe has been bringing their blend of politicized power pop and big-belt-buckle blare to fans across the country since 2004. The band's first two albums, Scratch The Surface and Tipping Point, tipped the neo-grunge scales towards the polished blast-pop of Foo Fighters and The Vines, but within those melodic contours lurked the ragged heart of first-generation indie bands from the Minutemen to The Replacements.

That artful, aggressive dynamic has been pushed to the hilt on Play Thing, which kicks The Cringe up several gears in creativity and killer instinct. The new album showcases some of the band's heaviest, headiest moments to date, including the prog-infused "Poison," the art-thrash excursion "Where It Hurts," and the album's first single, "No Control," with its whiff of Soundgarden psychedelia and early Pumpkins snarl. Containing some of Cusimano's most mature songcraft to date—the cautionary tale "Give and Take" is a case in point—the album is the result of a painstaking writing process and a rigorous recording ethic, a creative collision of analog purists and digital renegades, both committed to creating the strongest possible album.

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