"You should check my friend's band out. They are really good."
I can't tell you how many times I've heard this, been propositioned with promises of an act that is different, special and significant. Inevitably, that comment is followed with a CD being pressed into my hands or a journey to some dark bar, practice space or house party where said act tries to live up to the hype.
More often than not, it fails.
It has, if I'm completely honest, led to a certain cynicism on my part. Although I approach every band I hear wanting to love it, wanting to hear something special, the truth is I never expect to. Sometimes I hear promise and sometimes I am mildly entertained, but rarely do I hear or see a band I feel is ready for any stage at any time.
But I did Saturday.
In Savannah for the Bandwagon Print and Record fair, I was urged to check out a band called Cusses, a local favorite. I nodded my head but, in truth, never expected to make the trip.
I was sure something else would come up and that my unfamiliarity with Savannah geography would make finding a small bar in a big city an impossible task.
Fate, however, had other plans. A few hours later I found myself being ushered in front of a three-piece rock act that proceeded to, in the vernacular of the industry, melt some faces.
Cusses, it seems, has been around for a little more than a year, playing primarily in and around Savannah, with a few forays to Atlanta and up the East Coast. It apparently has been time well spent, as the band is incredibly tight and surprisingly imaginative in a way only the most honest of rock acts can be.
The Cusses sound seems to draw from a litany of influences. There's an element of punk rock aggression and metal muscle, but also a real sense of structure and serious, and soulful, songwriting chops.
The centerpiece of the band is lead singer Angel Bond's Patti Smith-meets-Mick Jagger-meets-Joe Strummer approach to rock catharsis. Cusses, however, seems to be a band that operates under the auspices of a musical democracy. Each component balances, from drummer Brian Lackey's deceptively complex approach to big beat drumming to guitarist Bryan Harder's innovative style that allows him to spin an aural illusion that he's playing both guitar and bass.
I spoke briefly with Bond after the band's set. It seems that Cusses is shopping producers and studios for a recording project that, in theory, would reflect its incendiary live sound. It's also looking to expand its audiences, playing in towns and venues that it hasn't hit.
Might I suggest Augusta?
Right now, despite some success in the fairly insulated Savannah, Cusses is toiling in relative obscurity. That's the bad news. The good news is the band's approach to playing, writing and the work of being music professionals could lead it to significant success.
Any stage. Any time. Cusses is ready.