Somewhere in the backwoods of Appalachian Ohio lives an unorthodox-yet-affable sapient creature knit together of volatile melodies, visceral power-pop energy, and scathing intellectual prowess — and its name is Cutler Station.
Named aptly after the closest thing to a convenience store that one would find near the band’s hometown of Vincent, OH, the rock ‘n’ roll four piece simmers with controlled nervous energy that transforms into music that explores the specifically Appalachian human experience with humor and sorrow in equal doses. Made up of Steve Lipscomb, Jason Swiger, and the Brothers Evans (John and Kirby), the band has known each other for decades, and formed their current lineup in 2011.
Fresh off a year of perfecting their chops at dozens of shows throughout Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Carolina, Cutler Station has managed to grow out of the title of “local band” into that of “regional band.” Armed perpetually with a glowing cactus and their very own mannequin made of tape, and, most recently, a church van; has performed alongside nationally touring acts such as Ona, Adam Remnant, Wayne Graham, The Blackfoot Gypsies, William Matheny, and Josh Nolan.
The group has brought to life two proper full-lengths, “Happy Campers” (2017) and “Cutler Station” (2019), demonstrating on each increasing musicality and greater sonic vision. “Happy Campers” gave us lovable oddball creations like “Demigods From Shanghai” and “Roller Rink Spider,” while the band’s self-titled cemented chief lyricist John Evan’s ability to melodically summon characters such as the not-so-rare Appalachian Speed Freak (“Southeast Ohio Speedster,”) to the one-and-only and certainly-lonely Mothman of Point Pleasant, WV (“Catacombs,”).
Along with that cast of characters, Cutler Station is rife with melodic interpretations of everything from the playful observations of a father (the album’s opener, “Curt Hennig,” which likens John Evans three-year-old son to the famous professional wrestler the song takes its title from,) to regional tragedy (the toxic chemical C8 that flows through the Ohio River thanks to the largely indifferent DuPont Corporation in “Appalachian Highway,”) and just about everything in between. These songs smolder with the corporeal melodic intensity of Dayton’s Guided By Voices paired with the brainy oddness of Devo, all dressed in a smattering of ultra-aware country western, ala Tyler Childers. Yet, Cutler Station manages to remain entirely idiosyncratic, perhaps especially in the Southeast Ohio region, where being labelled an “Americana” act is almost a curse.
The band is the embodiment of the quintessential “meat, no sides” variety of rock ‘n’ roll – all porterhouse and no gristle; all sustenance and no fluff. No adage could better describe the band’s live performances, whose ecstatic locomotion ebbs and flows from one enticing rock ‘n’ roll curiosity to the next. Judging from how the band’s yet-to-be-released material sounds at those shows, Cutler Station’s forthcoming 2020 LP could be the most wondrous, mystifying, and enticing thing to come out of the Appalachian backwoods since the Mothman himself.
-Written by the extremely talented, Emily Votaw.