Published on June 17th, 2020 | by Ron Spizziri


Ron’s Album Picks – The Cynics

Ron, host of Nightwaves on CFCR, comes through with another great diamond in the rough, this time recommending Pittsburgh Garage Rock Revival band The Cynics.


Following a three month-long hiatus due to COVID-19, Nightwaves, the radio show I’ve been hosting for 35 years, has returned to CFCR, 90.5 FM Tuesday evenings at 9 pm. The following review is another album that appeared on my annual Top Ten list of Nightwaves’ faves.

Along with The Chesterfield Kings, The Fuzztones and The Milkshakes, Pittsburgh’s Cynics were among the early founders of the 1980’s garage-rock revival movement. Far from being a flash in the pan, the group has remained on the music scene from the mid-8o’s until today. The Cynics have toured the U.S., U.K., Europe, Japan and Russia extensively and have over a dozen albums to their credit, most of which have found their way onto my Top Ten lists over the years. Their debut release, Blue Train Station, was my #1 pick of 1986 and marked the start of my personal and business relationship with the band.

Founding member Gregg Kostelich was introduced to the pop-rock scene after his parents took him to see The Sonics, Blues Magoos and The Who when he was seven years old. He then began his music career playing guitar in a punk cover band, The Jetsons. Hooking up with future songwriting partner, vocalist Michael Kastelik, Gregg and his group began its 35-year run of garnering high praise from fans and critics alike.

The All Music Guide website had this to say about Blue Train Station: “For a debut release, this sounds very mature in its accurate display of classic rhythm and blues tinged with portions of folk-rock, psychedelia and Hammond organ stomp. More than mere camp 60’s revivalism, The Cynics hit upon a style of timeless, melodic rock with momentous pop melodies”. And Trouser Press Magazine, in reviewing the album, summed up the Cynics’ sound thusly: “Gregg Kostelich’s guitars buzz with primal distortion as Michael Kastelik blurts out the lyrics in a sneery whine somewhere deep within the sonic blur. Grungier than a seedy bar and more energetic than a class of sugared-up toddlers”.

Blue Train Station is comprised mainly of original compositions but does contain a few choice 60’s covers, most notably The Sparkles’ “No Friend Of Mine” and The Litters’ Soul Searchin’”. And the album ends with a seven-minute Kinks’ styled rave-up cover of “Road Block”, originally done by The Wheels from Ireland.

About the Author

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grew up in Toronto in the 50s and 60s, building up a record library (which became an addiction early on and continues to this day). After moving to Saskatoon in 1979, he got into the “music biz” in a big way – running a record store (Records on Wheels), producing and hosting radio and TV shows, promoting concerts, doing some freelance writing, and starting up a record label (Rockin’ Rod records). Luddite that he is, Ron still favours vinyl analogue recordings over all other forms of recorded music.

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