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Dan Israel & the Cultivators

Love Ain't a Cliché – 2002 (Hayden's Ferry)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Dan Israel & the Cultivators

Dan Israel might not be the Robert Pollard of Americana music, but like the Guided by Voices frontman, Israel takes precious few breaks from making music and writing songs. For more than 10 years and stays in Chicago, Austin and his hometown of Minneapolis, the 31-year-old has more than kept busy in various bands and as a solo performer.

This is Israel's third release with The Cultivators, which has slimmed down to a trio, with bassist Kris Browning and David Russ on "drums and stuff" joining the guitarist and vocalist.

The hooks are plentiful and love of pop music and musicians like Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and The Who - who the band honors at the end of "Don't Feel Like Laughing" - obvious. In fact, if we were talking about gourmet coffee, we could say Israel's voice is a tasty Costello-Petty blend with hints of Dylan.

The songs are about love gone wrong ("Hey Kid") lives gone wrong ("Killing Time"), the world gone wrong ("Don't Feel Like Laughing"), local music scenes gone wrong ("Overloaded") and other things that have, well, gone wrong. Fortunately, Israel is an observant and intelligent songwriter, and on "Love Ain't a ClichT" a lot goes right.