A lot of bands can pull off one decent enough track. Given enough time and effort, a musician can strike gold and pull a rabbit out of their hat. Most bands don’t bleed promise, though. Promise, the It factor. That one special ingredient. The intangible that separates a one-trick-pony from a band capable of rising to the top, and even, kick-starting a new generation of bands. If you’re looking for a band so ripe with promise, it jumps up and announces itself just as loud as the music, look no further that Michael P. Cullen and the Soul Searchers.
Hailing from Australia, the brooding, melancholy quintet is led by singer-guitarist Michael P. Cullen. Listening to the band is an exercise that requires multiple listens. Once just isn’t enough. The arrangements are bountiful with top-notch instrumentation that would send any Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers wanna-bees back to the woodshed. Haunting piano lines, provided by Craig Wilson, weave in and out. Never overstaying their welcome. Always leaving the listener wanting more; reminiscent of Heartbreakers legend Benmont Tench.
The other members of the band, drummer, percussionist and vocalist Tim Powles, bassist Andy Sharpe and guitarist James Harland-Wright more than hold their own. The band’s tight rhythm section provides a fun, surprising element to the music while the dual- guitar attack of Michael P. Cullen and Harland-Wright creates a crushing wall of sound. Guitar chords jangle beautifully one second and shift to attack mode in the next. Their open, spacious arrangements offer each member an opportunity to simultaneously serve the song, and shine. Their sound, truly grandiose and innovative.
Think Urge Overkill with minor key Foo Fighters-esque chord progressions and a sprinkling of old school country and you might be scratching the surface. Cullen’s voice is commanding. His slight rasp gives way to an undeniable vulnerability. You don’t just hear his lyrics; you feel them. His unique choice of melodies and phrasings launch the band’s songs from good to great. Take one listen to “Black Coffee and Cigarettes.” I dare you to try and not hum that chorus melody, long after listening. Trust me, you will be.
Speaking of “Black Coffee and Cigarettes,” the track is a great introduction to the band for the uninitiated. The powerful track, which appears on the Live at Lazybones EP shakes you to your core. The chilling background vocals and here-today-gone-tomorrow popups of various instruments keep you guessing the whole way through.
When the track begins, Cullen sings, “Remember when, we were young?” The line is inviting and inconspicuous. But as far as opening lines to a song go, it hardly gets better. He demands more than just listening. He demands engagement. It’s such a simple line yet it carries a hefty implication with it. It’s insanely relatable and by time you realize that it’s too late. You’re hooked. In a trance. Prepared to go with him and his band on this journey of an absolute killer track.
The secret ingredient that I believe elevates this track is the rhythm section. They’re not content to be play it safe. They keep the groove loose and breathing, with false starts and accents, wetting your appetite before coming together to carry the song into its first chorus. That chorus is sing-along ready out of the box. But it’s in the execution and the lead up to it, that it hits you in your core. You’ll be singing along with Cullen by the third chorus. I guarantee it.
The aforementioned Live at Lazybones EP was recorded by Sydney, Australia’s own Dave Trumpanis and mixed by Ted Howard. The EP features “Black Coffee and Cigarettes” as well as four other fantastic cuts. Cullen may ask, “What would I give? To kill these regrets?” Well, if you are a music fan and starved for a unique, original band with a vision all their own, look no further than Michael P. Cullen and the Soul Searchers. You will not regret it. Check out the links below for where you can check out, connect and fall in love with this band!