A unique blend of modern and classic rock styles that perfectly support the most challenging lyrical ideas in popular music. This is rock and roll for freethinkers. This is NOT what you expected.
The album: "Out of Many, One"
Released by Infidels Records, 2005
UniversalDice.com is a most unique band; just beneath their accessible modern rock sound lies perhaps the most ambitious and rich lyrically subversive yet uplifting content in popular music today. Although most of their songs are radio ready while musically challenging and engaging, the ideas that drive the songs break all the rules and continually surprise the listener. There are few bands that not only make you think, but force you to re-think what was once taken for granted.
This 2005 album, "Out Of Many, One," continues the growth of this band. "Still Alive in the USA" attempts to rescue patriotism from the domain of scoundrels, "FGM," "To the Fundamentalists," and "I Am the Woman Who Has Awoken," spearhead a call for reason and compassion for oppressed people everywhere including women in particular, while the I-Am-the-Walrus-like "Master of Low Expectations" exploits the verbal ramblings of someone we knew all too well! And of course, you will not find songs like "God Wants Me to Hate You," anywhere else!
The end result is a band with a unique, yet never repetitive sound. "One Good Thing," and "Peace Love" will move you in ways you thought were long gone from a rock band. How many modern rock bands can make you both feel and think?
Songwriter, singer and author/activist, Gerry Dantone, has perfected a writing style that is first and foremost humanistic, but also coherent, provocative, and multi-layered. Further the band's primary themes are as big as they get; life and death, and meaning and purpose. No other band is as prepared to tackle these subjects as UniversalDice.com. Bandmates Bob Barcus on lead guitar and Tom Beckner on keyboards are among Long Island's finest session players and are given a chance to stretch on such musical gems in songs such as "God Shaped Hole," "Last Prayer," and "My Name Is Thomas..." from their first CD, "My Name Is Thomas..." . Newest member is longtime area studio whiz Ed Canova who adds his fretless bass support to a number of the bands latest tunes.
Although no single song completely represents this band, a style still emerges, one based on creative songwriting, strong vocals, accomplished musicianship and clever arrangements. We hope you enjoy the new music.
CD Review - Island Songwriter's Showcase Newsletter Feb. 2005 http://www.islandsongwriters.org/newsletters/2005-02.pdf
UNIVERSAL DICE TACKLES BIG THEMES
By Pedro Pereira
Long Island band Universal Dice's third release is a musically and lyrically ambitious collection of songs, titled "Out of Many, One," that will have you tapping your foot while pondering some of the most controversial issues of our times.
Universal Dice is the band led by ISS Newsletter founder Gerry Dantone, who writes most of the tunes, sings and plays guitar. His musical co-conspirators are keyboardist Tom Beckner, guitarist Bob Barkus, songwriter/bassist Sam Camino and bass player Ed Canova.
From corporate layoffs to the child-molestation scandal in the Catholic Church to the plight of Afghan women under a repressive regime, Universal Dice tackles some difficult themes without ever succumbing to preachy-ness. And while condemnation and indignation occasionally accentuate the message, for the most part the band succeeds in taking a sympathetic approach to the issue at hand.
Such is the case with "I am the Woman Who Has Awoken," a song inspired by a poem written by Afghan female activist Meena, who was assassinated in 1987 for speaking out against fundamentalists and the Soviet-controlled puppet regime then ruling the country.
Pop "Out of Many, One" in your player, and you'll quickly be singing along to the infectious chorus of "God Wants Me to Hate You," an uptempo number delivered with an intensity reminiscent of Elvis Costello's early music. The song offers an ironic take on the oft-repeated Bible-based justifications for homophobia. Or you might catch yourself swaying along the reggae rhythm of "Welcome to 1984," a track that deals with censorship.
Homophobia, censorship and gender repression in distant regimes may seem like a tall order to cover in one CD. But Universal Dice doesn't stop there. The band offers a rapid-fire litany of anti-right-wing themes that would make John Ashcroft weep.
For starters, "Out of Many, One" kicks off with "Master of Low Expectations," an ingenious satire on our current commander in chief that uses nothing but his own bumbling words to deliver its indictment. Gerry picked up such priceless presidential nuggets as "War is a dangerous place" and "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made" to write the song. And they are uncomfortably amusing.
But lest anyone walk away with the impression that "Out of Many, One," merely condemns, it's important to note that there is an undercurrent of hope that lifts the message into a positive plain. This is particularly the case with the songs "Still Alive in the USA," a percussion-heavy uptempo anthem and "Peace, Love," a Lennonesque ballad that asks, "Peace, love, is that all there is?" and goes on to conclude in a very understated way: "Peace, love, it comes down to this."
The band approaches each song with a visible sense of economy and lyrical sensibility. The music is as informed by the Beatles as by Costello and other late '70s/early '80s acts. "Out of Many, One" is mature rock for mature listeners who don't mind having to think when hearing music.
UniversalDice wears its politics on its bright blue sleeve, as immediately telegraphed by the lead-off track, "Master Of Low Expectations," which mocks Bushspeak ("Rarely is the question asked/Is our children learning?") in a pulsing mix of guitars and sitars. Another brand of asshole gets its douche in "To The Fundamentalists," an exercise in dignified defiance that impressively eschews jingoistic posturing in favor of a quiet surety in right beliefs: "If you fill the air with your pious curses/You will not begin to wipe away your fears." The satire in "God Wants Me to Hate You" is impossible to miss, but "FGM (Take The Knife Away)," a rumination on female genital mutilation, is hardly more subtle. By the time UniversalDice swings into the clerical molestation ditty "One Good Thing," it's become fairly obvious that Gerry Dantone & co. won't settle for the easy expressions of angst that constitute most modern rock writing. Bruce Cockburn fans (I know you're out there), take note.