I’ve discussed The Cynz here in the past. Their release of Superfan on Bongo Boy Records in 2015 was a big hit here at The Aquarian. The Cynz is a full-throttle rock band formed around the songwriting talents of poet Cyndi Dawson (vocals) and Henry Seiz (guitar, vocals). The band has been described as “the closest thing to CBGB’s as you will ever get.” Their songs are hard-rocking tales of heartbreak, survival, determination, redemption, and sometimes unbridles joy at a breakneck speed.
The Cynz have been rocking the NJ/NYC area and abroad for over seven years now; Named “one of the top bands to see in New York City” in 2016 by The Aquarian’s own Charlie Crespo; The Cynz continuously top the rock charts on Reverb Nation locally as well as globally.
Dawson is an on-stage visual tsunami! She leads the band through shamanic rock ‘n’ roll rites of passage. Her raw, emotional stage presence — along with the groups edgy, the powerful vibe — is indeed a live experience. The Cynz influences derive from the late ‘70s lower East Side chainsaw music scene of The Ramones and the tight, gritty vibe of The MC5, Alice Cooper, and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.
Poet Dawson has been compared to Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, and even Jim Carroll. But her style is all her own. Seiz brings years of old-school jazz, pop rock, swing and punk to the table. The combination of all these influences is The Cynz. Dawson and long-time musician friend Seiz joined forces and put together what is being talked about as “the closest thing to the sound of 1977 CBGB’s since 1977.”
The Cynz has opened for legendary acts such as the newly-reformed Blues Magoos, The Split Squad, Martha Davis and the Motels, Ivan Julian, Sonny Vincent, The Vibrators, Billy Rath’s Street pirates, Warrior Soul, Walter Lure and the Waldos, Ian Loyd and the Zero’s and many more.
The Cynz have a brand-new vinyl LP entitled Li’l Devil and two other CDs to their credit. The first CD Original Cynz and the second Five Mortal Cynz are guitar driven, in your face dance-fests. Their second CD contains a rocking track co-written with Gary Hefferen, lead vocalist of the legendary San Diego-based The Penetrators entitled “Blame it on the Kiss.”
The Cynz have recently released their third album Li’l Devil on Fishpuppy Records, completed a tour of Sweden and released several singles produced by Peppy Castro of The Blues Magoos. Cyndi recently sent me the record, and I wanted to take a few moments to describe their latest sounds and triumphs in detail.
The disc starts off with the rock ‘n’ roll magic of “The Devil is in the Details.” The Cynz kick straight into pop-rock heaven here. Dawson sounds like no other singer out there today. Her lyrical attack is perfect as the band chips away at the arrangement and adds layers of musical luxury. Dawson sings in a plaintive, guttural way, drawing raw emotion out of her lines and setting up the band like clockwork.
Drummer Robert Stocki and bassist Anne Husick plow the road, laying down 1960s The Seeds styled rhythms for Seiz and Dawson to do their thing without worry. Like most great rock songs, Dawson gets to the chorus fast, and it’s a superior one to boot. Verses are succinct and lead to addictive choruses quicker than most. The middle-eight reminds me of The Byrds as clean, Rickenbacker styled guitars snap and sizzle riff based lines that support the hell out of Dawson’s arrangement. Fundamental work by guest Jerry Rames also adds to the overall fullness of this superb rock ‘n’ roll tune.
“Let it Burn” is up next. The Cynz utilize a bluesy, shuffle-style vamp that delivers tons of attitude and moxie. Featuring the guitar wizardry of Matt Langone, “Let It Burn” smokes throughout. Dawson lays down the law when it comes to the woes and dangers of love. I swear I haven’t heard a singer that sounds like her since Johnette Napolitano. Earthy and full of grit, Dawson delivers in spades. Her voice matches the guitars here. One gain verse leads to the bodacious bridge and original as hell chorus. Langone does a great job dolling out viscous licks, chords and lead lines as Dawson matches him with attitude and style. The middle-eight guitar work pops as the band kicks back in and supports the return of Dawson. If I ever had a favorite female singer, I say it would have to be Cyndi Dawson. The riffage melts like ice cream as Dawson and crew pump the life deep into this great song.
Another great song is called “Right to Your Grave.” One of the more radio-friendly tunes on the record it features the able assist of Poppy Castro on guitar and bass. Dawson gives undying devotion to the one she loves as the band pumps upbeat life into every verse and chorus. This is yet another song with a heavenly chorus, and Dawson sets up Castro with style and flair all her own. When it comes time for Poppy Castro to blow in the middle-eight, he doesn’t disappoint. Clean tones take over the lead as Castro lays down his simple Earl Slick styled sound and melodic lead lines. Dawson is back after the lead with her plaintive tones, and it’s a hit in my book. Husick and Stocki hold the fort down as Dawson, Seiz, and Castro paint their magic across the compositional slate. This is one of my favorite tunes on the disc, and I know it will do well for the band.
Moving around the disc, I came to a song called “Superfan.” Dawson kicks things off with an indicative kick at the fan that never knows when to say enough is enough. Seiz lays waste all guitar comers on this one. This reminds me of a band called Stinky Toys. A famed Paris band who supported The Sex Pistols, The Damned, Siouxsie and The Banshees in the early days of New York punk. Guitars riff over the top of solid bass and drums as Dawson tells her story of fandom and idolatry. Verses set up bridges before hitting the addictive choruses. Dawson holds nothing back as she lays it all out on the table. The middle-eight guitar work is an excellent mix of Mick Ronson and Ace Frehley before the band cashes it all in for the next verse. They then end back on that remarkable chorus before fading into the end.
Another great song of the record is “White Hot Storm.” Utilizing a bluesy mix of early Kiss and Glenn Danzig, Dawson and Seiz roll out a battalion of rock ‘n’ roll attitude. Seiz takes the lead vocal reins on this one, and his style is reminiscent of Stan Ridgeway. Guitars roll over upbeat drums and bass work as Dawson chimes in and sing background with Seiz. The two sound like they’ve been singing together for decades, and that might be the case. Matt Langone is back on lead guitar, and he rips through the heart of this song with all the gusto of Steve Jones. Special guest bassist Patrick Schout is also featured on this song, and he’s a perfect fit with Stocki. Swampy and filled with boisterous glee, “White Hot Storm” works on many levels.
Another song I wanted to mention is “Learn to Feel Alive.” A downturned pop classic, “Learn to Feel Alive” features Dawson spiraling from compositional plateau to plateau. Vocals are the focus here, and she doesn’t disappoint. Once again, the Concrete Blonde reference comes back but in a complimentary way. Johnette is the closest singer I can compare Dawson to, and it’s a great compliment. I love her arrangement savvy on this song. I love how the verses swirl into the bridges and eventually the chorus as Dawson does her thing. Verse work is simple and effective as she slides down the rabbit hole bridge and back into the next verse before falling down the waterfall of chorus magic. The chorus is beautiful and perfectly fitting as she makes way for Seiz’s guitar brilliance. Schout is back on bass and adds excellent support to the song. Seiz lays clean and mysterious guitar over the middle-eight as Dawson chimes back in to lead the listener with her powerful vocal chops.
There is a total of 11 songs on Li’L Devil, and I wish I had space to get to them all, but I don’t. If you get a chance, head over to the band’s Facebook page and find out how to purchase this exciting new record, you won’t be disappointed.
The Cynz score 200% on Li’L Devil and its one that I’ll keep in my “No Throw Away” pile. Do yourself a favor and buy this disc while you can. For more information on The Cynz and Li’L Devil, head over to facebook.com/thecynz.