Genre: Retro Jazz Pop
Band Members: Shirli McAllen (Vocals/Ukulele), Austin Nicholsen (Bass/Ukulele), Stuart Johnson (Drums) and Mike Bolger (Piano/Trumpet/Accordion)
Location: Venice, California, USA
Discography: Game Called Life EP (2009), Places to Go (2011), Departures EP (2012), Christmas Time is Here EP (2012) and The Spark and the Fire (2013)
Record Label: Independent
For our next showcase band we travel to Venice, California the home of the Leftover Cuties. The band have been described as having "a timeless prohibition jazz sound, combining sultry vocals with pop perfect songwriting and seasoned musicianship". Their back catalogue is definitely worth exploring and highly recommended by all us here at LCM. The Leftover Cuties Shirli McAllen (lead vocals, ukulele), Austin Nicholsen (bass, vocals), Mike Bolger (brass, keys, accordion, vocals ) and Stuart Johnson (drums, percussion, vocals) have sparked a fire with music lovers. Their spellbinding debut album “Places to Go” won raves from critics. Their impeccable and atmospheric live performances draw ever-growing and increasingly passionate crowds in the clubs and cabarets of their hometown Los Angeles. A string of impressive licensing placements has won them fans the world over. Among those big spots: the theme for the Showtime series “The Big C” and an ad for Samsung that aired over and over during the 2012 Olympics, generating more than 3 million YouTube views! It all signals the start of something big for the Cuties.
The Spark & the Fire (released in 2013) fulfills that promise and builds on that momentum with more delectable, intelligent pop concoctions delivered with honest and emotionally candid lyrics. Their supple and handcrafted sound has risen to a new level of (seemingly) effortless interplay. Co- produced by multiple Grammy-winner Dave Way (Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow, Macy Gray), the collection is highlighted by the foot-stomping anthem “One Heart” (wherein McAllen ponders ““Another strike, another ache / How much hurt can one take? How many times can one heart break?”) and the tender ballad “Clarity.”
“I think we all wonder about that when we get a good beating,” she says. “The last couple of years have been quite emotional for me. As a result, I had a lot more to say in this record from a personal point of view.”
Like many second albums, the creation of the Spark & the Fire was a difficult process, McAllen says. “I think we all came into it with big expectations, and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Sometimes that can get in the way, but we managed to rise above and make something we’re really proud of.” Now it’s time to get to know the band behind all of those songs you keep hearing in those ads on TV.
Onstage, on television and on laptops the world over, Leftover Cuties are heating up. From a spark to a fire….
As with any true troubadours, love makes Leftover Cuties’ world go ‘round. On the band’s shining second album the Spark & the Fire love makes the heart sing, soar and ache…usually in the same song.