Here on the HO Back 40:
survives in The Cucumbers.
Jon Pareles in The New York Times (May 1999)
Vegetus Amor: Welcome to The Cucumbers; welcome back to The Cucumbers. Take a seat in the first-class lounge and put your feet up on the first-class cushions, and get set for a wondrous fecund journey into a first-class new music of jangle and joy, punch and personality, tenderness and triumph. The sleek bundle of vegies at left is the cover of the band's newest foray onto CD, Total Vegetility, on Home Office Records (of course).
Click in the Garden Box and buy Total Vegetility now!
If this is your first brush with The Cucumbers, then it's a treat to have you aboard. The band is out with a fresh new crop of gig dates, breaking in a new harvest of material: for a year and more they have kept pace with their promise of a new song every show, and there hasn't been a clinker in the lot. They've caught fancies from fans local and national, including the keen ears at Napster in the glory days of that great network -- two Cukes tunes topped the Discovery New Music weekly feature slots at Napster back when the whole world was tuning in, and we were happy to share the music with you. Lately, keeping up on the rebel front, the band donated its album track "Illegal" in mp3 format to Protest Records (founded by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth), where it shares e-digs with music by artists known and un- who share opposition to the War, the System, the Machine, and anything and everything between.
- The Village VOICE (Gehr, May 1999)
Recently The Cucumbers have been busy scoring film sequences (including a documentary on the Cadillacs that Elvis Presley famously gave away when He Was King, and features on writer Carson McCullers and the Mamas and the Papas), cavorting on Manhattan cable television with Dave of Dave's Place, and making solo, duo and full band appearances in New Jersey and up and down downtown Manhattan.
The Cucumbers meld swampy, surfy clangor with pop crispness and twisty fresh harmonies that stick in the ear and tap in the feet. Their intense gleeful sound may remind you of The B-52's, of Sixpence None the Richer, of Mazzy Star after a lot of coffee, of Shocking Blue drawn into the modern day, with a sweet memory of girl-group frankness and the solid twist of twin tight guitars keeping everything rolling forward. Cucumbers songs are as fresh as sprouting seedlings, telling bright-eyed tales of inner strength, daily foibles, life's gentle twists, and the kind of firm take-no-prisoners love that binds partners -- and binds a band -- together for decades and lives entire.
- Jim Santo in his Demo Universe
Deena Shoshkes (vox, guitar) and Jon Fried (guitar, vox) have been watering a plot in the independent music garden since first smashing out of Hoboken in the mid-80's with local and national radio and MTV hits like "My Boyfriend," "Don't Drop the Baby," "All Shook Up" and "Susie's Getting Married." With rocksteady Kurt Wrobel on bass and new drummer Drummer Steve on the kit, this "cool-as-you-know-what" (People Magazine), "quirky and winsome" (Billboard), "direct and artful" (The New York Times) outfit is making some of the region's best-loved, brightest, and most personal music.
Total Vegetility is the fourth full-length album in The Cucumbers' long pedigree, and it's full of questions. We mean that literally -- questions define many of the songs on this CD, and some of the lyrics consist of only questions. Total Vegetility was recorded in a period of flux, when the band was regrouping its members and redefining its relationship with a prior record label. Having done the national tour circuit in support of their 1987 eponymous release, The Cucumbers were trying to balance the call of music with the daily realities of life -- a common struggle -- and the result is a spicy and sometimes jarring collection of musing songs that bounce with childlike wonder and, at the same time, wonder what lies beneath the surfaces and behind the facades. And conclude, with a sly shrug, that you might as well have a good time. More or less.
- The Midwest Music Review, July 1999
This album won attentive airplay on college radio nationwide, charting in the Top 30 on dozens of stations and attracting critical praise from both newcomers and the faithful. Village VOICE head music critic Robert Christgau singled out the CD's lead track, "My Birthday," as a Recommended Cut in his Music Guide, and you can read some of the rest of the praise for Total Vegetility on this page.
When they're not recording for future Home Office projects (did we say that out loud?), The Cucumbers are lookin' at bookin' throughout the region: keep peeled for their upcoming shows, and join up on the band's email news list for up-to-date notes on their site updates, tour appearances, local shebangs and shenannigans, and the new material that's busy shaping up with every passing session. There's a lot there, and we're working up some new ways to bring it to you in fine style. Don't be a stranger.