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Sputnik Music has reviewed all 4 CDs of UniversalDice over the years, most likely the only website to do so.  Their reviews basically consist of a number rating, and we received a 3 out of 4. 

As a comparison, the Killers latest album got a "2" and Muse's received a "2.5".  Bruce Springsteen on Broadway received a "2.5".  We will not complain about our "3". 

The rating is in the 2017 list - we are the last band on the list.  You can see our 3 other CDs rated in other years - just search the page for "UniversalDice". 



UniversalDice recently dropped a 16-song album called birth, love, hate, death. Not only does it encompass a lot of tracks, but it’s a rock opera. If I sound astonished, it’s because at the current juncture, when pandering to Spotify’s deification of singles is prevalent, no artist in their right mind contemplates writing a rock opera, except Gerry Dantone and UniversalDice. 

“I have a philosophy about lyrics and music. I need to have a reason to write the next song. Each piece needs a reason for existing,” says Dantone in the band’s press release. 

A rock opera of grand scale, birth, love, hate, death relates the narrative of a Mother and her Son, along with Danielle, the Son’s lover, and Sugar Daddy, who is Danielle’s pimp. 

Based on Long Island, NY, Universal Dice is made up of Dantone (vocals, guitar, producer), Bob Barcus (guitar), Ed Canova (bass), Walter Sargent (keyboards), and Vin Crici (keyboards). 

The first track, “Welcome To The World,” introduces the Son to the world. There’s a Byrds-like flow to the music, as well hints of The Who’s Quadrophenia. “I Wish I Could Tell You This” is vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd, dreamy and undulating. Dantone’s rasping tones invest the tune with flavors of regret and nostalgia. 

“Better Man” exudes dark bluesy colors, as well as cutting energy imbuing the song with tension and gravity. “Man Enough” radiates a SoCal soft rock quality akin to Don Henley post-Eagles, not only because of Dantone’s scratchy tones, but because of the tune’s dynamics, soft yet declarative. 

The closing track, “Forever,” emphasizes the power of love within the human heart. Floating gently on a beautiful piano, the tune weaves a tapestry of gossamer textures. The song can be interpreted in two ways: one, the Son and Danielle never get together, but are sustained by their memories, or two, they live happily ever after. 

Dantone and UniversalDice capture the elation and pain of all-consuming love on birth, love, hate, death, as well as the obstacles imposed by human frailty. The simple telling of the tale proves to be cathartic, making the album a worthy listening experience. 



UniversalDice - 'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' 

Infidel Records, UniversalDice is a band who delivers classic-rock-operas with huge musical landscapes, in-depth story-lines/characters and lyrical explorations of life's complexities, mysteries and meaning. The band features: Gerry Dantone, lead vocals, guitars, programming; Bob Barcus, guitars; Ed Canova,bass; and Walt Sargent and Vin Crici on keys. Songwriter, singer, political and philosophical writer/activist Gerry Dantone delivers more than music in his song-writing; he delivers a complete experience. If you close your eyes and listen, you will be transported into ta colorful, world as if you are reading a novel. Inspired by artists such as the Who and the Beatles, UniversalDice's new self recorded and produced 16-track album 'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' is a great way to introduce yourself to the band's captivating, page-turning performance. 

Each song on the album is strung together in a cinematic fashion sung from different perspectives representing the "characters" viewpoint.  For example, track three "Your Son" depicts a toxic relationship between a mother and a son, told from the son's perspective.  Kicking off the song is a guitar progression with slight distortion, accompanied by a rocking drum beat and synth keys droning in the background. The vocals enter to suit the mood, mellow with a haunting timbre. When combined with the instrumentation, UniversalDice  sets a stormy mood that captivates you right from the start. “Your Son” is a very moving song about childhood abuse showing that UniversalDice doesn't shy away from serious and difficult topics. 

Another stand-out composition on the album is “My Hands Are Tied” (Track 5).  "My Hand Are Tied" changes up the vibe with a strong pop-theater flavor, an upbeat tempo, with catchy melodies and memorable chorus.  Nice electric guitar leads compliment this arrangement. This song is a great example of how well the compositions on the album reflect the mood and emotion of the lyrics. Vocally, Dantone shows incredible diversity, moving to a tenor-ranged, clear pop presentation with ease.  The song's perspective is from a boy who has a larger-than-life crush on a girl - he "takes a pill to gather up some courage, but instead get an awful headache."  There is an innocence that is revealed as the words delve into the humanistic themes of inadequacy and humiliation. 

Sung from the same perspective is “Danielle,” a song about pretentiousness. "Danielle, you're the life of the party. Danielle, you'll never say you're sorry. Does the new car mean you've got it made? Do you have a friend you won’t betray?"  The band demonstrates tight musicianship in this multi-layered track.  Both "My Hands Are Tied" and "Danielle" have a musical-esk vibe bringing the drama to life.  Another song from the perspective of "the Boy" is“Better Man.” This song has a classic rock instrumental track that rocks out with great electric guitar riffs and a solo jam section. "Better Man" is about the Boy’s fear of losing love and his willingness to do what it takes to keep the love alive."I love you so much, I’d risk losing you. I can’t do nothin’, ‘cept what’s right by you." The song is sung with passion as if Dantone is inside the character's heart. 

As the engaging album progresses, the images of the opera grow stronger and come more into focus, like a good page turner, each song unfolds with suspense. Following "Better Man' is the ballad "Honesty,' which is a duo between the Boy and Danielle. This moving ballad, which was my favorite track on the album,is sure to be a fan favorite with its intricate piano playing, infectious melodies and harmonies.  The beautiful performance demonstrates UniveralDice's ability to write raw and genuine emotion. "Honestly, honestly, do you really love me? Are you thinking of me? Honestly, honestly, are you trying to use me? You think you’ll seduce me?" 

“Sleeping Alone” marks a climactic point in the rock opera that explores doubt and insecurity and the desire to feel grounded in love. It opens with a melodic piano line accompanied by synth strings. This duet changes from a soft ballad into a tense rocking jam and is sure to get your blood pumping in suspense for what is going to happen next. The final song on the album is sung solely from the perspective on Danielle and is titled, “Forever.” The song opens with a gentle piano progression that is soon accompanied by lovely acoustic guitar and a steady drum beat. "Forever" wraps up the rock opera with lessons learned. "Love is the warm embrace, love is the saving grace. We need to help each other." It has a memorable hook that is sure to stick with you leaving a lasting memory of this rock opera in your mind. 

'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' is an extremely highly developed musical concept album that gives listeners substantial musical content while delivering insight on the struggles of love and growing into yourself. UniversalDice has found their niche with an ability to write songs that build insightful stories with memorable melodies and hooks that would allow each song to stand alone and shine, but when pieced together form a grand work of art. Other albums by UniversalDice touch on themes like faith, meaning and purpose, politics and social issues. Their music, along with more information on this prolific band, can be found on their website, 




The mastermind behind rhythmic rock outfit UniversalDice, Mr. Gerry Dantone, has been building on classic influence from The Beatles, The Who, and Cream across four outstanding musical collections, tapping into the talents of friends Vin Crici, Walt Sargent, Bob Barcus, and Ed Canova to make songs that absolutely put the art first. With a premium on powerful lyrical content, UniversalDice’s first three records include “My Name is Thomas…”, “mostly Stories” and, “Out of Many, One”, but today we’re talking about the band’s latest rock opera, “birth, love, hate, death”. 

We asked Dantone to tell us all about the new opera – he told us, “After our third CD I noticed I had not been writing a lot of personal love songs or songs about romantic love – the love between two persons. I was admittedly intimidated by love songs – there are so many, it almost seemed like everything worth writing had already been written. So I decided to do what I had not really done – write an album of songs about love, and of course, I wanted it to be as true to life as possible. In real life, there is more tragedy and failure than there is expressed in the average love song. That was the area I could explore. Since one writes best about what they know, birth, love, hate, death reflects what I know and have experienced, emotionally, about love…I think true love is rare, difficult and that in real life, probably, love is NOT all you need, even though in theory, that would be nice. This album is full of love and tragedy. That’s why it’s birth, love, hate, death.” Click to to get into birth, love, hate, death – hopefully sooner than later, we’ll be bringing you an update on the record becoming a live rock opera! Now, keep reading. There’s still so much more to dive into in all the answers to the XXQs below. (PEV): How would you describe your sound? 

Gerry Dantone (GD): I would like to think we are unique but we certainly are a band that values melody, lyrics, and a rhythmic rock underpinning.   If you had to compare us we would probably say American Idiot Green Day, the Beatles, the Killers, the Who and other bands that focused on the songs. 

PEV: What kind of music were you all into growing up? 

GD: The Beatles, the Who, Cream, the blues in general, all of the bands that still sound good today.   With five guys, there are probably too many bands to list. 

PEV: What can fans expect from a live UniversalDice show? 

GD: A UniversalDice show in the future, hopefully, would be a staging of the rock opera, birth, love, hate, death, with actors actually playing the roles.  This would be a massive undertaking for a band that is not already famous. 

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage? 

GD: I am focused on playing and singing the songs well.  I do not want to sound sloppy or ragged.  I want the audience, who may or may not have heard these tunes before, to get a real flavor of what the music is supposed to sound like. 

PEV: How has playing in UniversalDice been different from working with other artists or projects in the past? 

UniversalDiceunnamed-2GD: Basically my only project has been writing and playing the band’s original music.   Our first couple of albums also featured songs written by former bassist Sam Cimino who wrote very cool stuff but has since retired, so the last two CDs (out of our four CDs) have only featured my songs.  Our first three CDs before birth, love, hate, death in order were My Name is Thomas… (also a rock opera), mostly True Stories and Out of Many, One.  On all four CDs every song is original and we produced each CD ourselves at our own home studios. 

PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music? Where do you get your best ideas for songs? 

GD: I always have believed that I have something valuable to contribute and communicate to others.  My motivation has always been a sense of trying to contribute to culture, society, and others.  I also was sure I did not want to waste my time on writing songs that were already written before – I wanted to writing something that had, at the very least, a new angle to it, if not a totally new idea or sound altogether.  Each new song had to have a reason to exist.  I did not want to write “product.”   The other core idea I have in writing and recording new music is this:  “Make it sound good.”  This is very subjective but it means NOT following trends and it also means not trying to be different just for the sake of being different.   It means making it sound good in your own opinion.  Hopefully others will agree. 

On our first two CDs my focus was very philosophical and I dealt with some very big themes – reason and faith, meaning and purpose, and believe it or not, religion and philosophy.  The challenge was to make it rock and to make it sound good!  Our third CD focused more on social issues and war and peace.   birth, love, hate, death is all about love and, once again, the meaning and purpose of life.  I do not know how many bands are motivated to go where we go.  The material on those first three CDs certainly were songs that had new ideas in some way. 

So the inspiration for my songs come from what is on my mind.  When I became a parent, I thought quite a bit about how I would raise my children and what values or beliefs I would want them to have.  My conclusion was that whatever I did, I did NOT want to indoctrinate them into any belief system.  With this on my mind, I wrote My Name is Thomas… which is largely an exploration of truth, reason, and faith as told in a fictional story.  The next CD, mostly True Stories dealt with similar themes, but this time using real life stories to explore the questions of philosophy, religion, reason, and faith. 

Out of Many, One was written after September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq.  This CD was released in 2005.  It dealt with war and peace, politics, and the oppression of women and others.   Looking back, many of the ideas I expressed in the first three CDs were controversial and not part of the common wisdom at the time.  Now it seems those ideas were just way ahead of their time. 

After our third CD I noticed I had not been writing a lot of personal love songs or songs about romantic love – the love between two persons.  I was admittedly intimidated by love songs – there are so many, it almost seemed like everything worth writing had already been written.   So I decided to do what I had not really done – write an album of songs about love, and of course, I wanted it to be as true to life as possible.   In real life, there is more tragedy and failure than there is expressed in the average love song.  That was the area I could explore. 

Since one writes best about what they know, birth, love, hate, death reflects what I know and have experienced, emotionally, about love.  It is a fictional story, but obviously I identify with the “Son” in the story and I think I understand the “Danielle” character in the story as well.   I think true love is rare, difficult and that in real life, probably, love is NOT all you need, even though in theory, that would be nice.  This album is full of love and tragedy.  That’s why it’s birth, love, hate, death. 

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of UniversalDice? 

GD: I do not know if this is surprising but we are all more than just musicians.  Vin Crici was a public high school music teacher and has often conducted full student orchestras in concerts.  That experience and talent is apparent on such cuts on birth, love, hate, death as “Sleeping Alone” and “Forever.”  Walt Sargent is a computer programmer and has his own small business.  Vin and Walt are both excellent songwriters as well and played the keyboard parts on our latest CD.  Bob Barcus has appeared on all four UniversalDice CDs and plays all the most UniversalDiceunnameddifficult guitar parts.  When I draw a blank on a guitar part, Bob rescues the song such as he did on “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, “I Know What I’m Doing”, and “Better Man”.  Bassist Ed Canova was a high school physics teacher and is now on tour with blues guitarist Bobby Messano. 

I have a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.B.A. in Finance, believe it or not.  I have had my own real estate brokerage small business and was once an original employee of MTv Networks.  I founded a local branch of an international think tank, Center for Inquiry – Long Island, where I had the opportunity to meet world famous scientists and philosophers and appear on CFI’s behalf on CNN, FoxNews, C-Span and numerous local TV outlets. 

PEV: What can fans expect from your Rock Opera, birth, love, hate, death?  Tell us about the writing process behind this work. 

GD: My typical songwriting process involves sensing a “need” for a song.  I like the idea of a rock opera because writing a story leads to needing songs to advance the story.  Once I know I need a song for a particular reason, the idea for the song may pop up in the form of a lyric coupled with a melody in my brain.  I like to NOT have a guitar in my hand for this process because I might fall into old familiar chord patterns as opposed to being unbounded in my thoughts.  “Sleeping Alone” is a prime example of this – the melody and lyric just came to me and it took me a long time to figure out the chord structure I was hearing – literally it took years!  That is an extreme example of my “process.”  That I remembered the melody for years was a sign it was a very strong melody. 

PEV: What is the feeling you get after a song or album is complete and you can sit back and listen to it in full? 

GD: That is probably the best thing of all if you are satisfied with the outcome.  There is relief that it is done and joy that it is a reality and, in your own opinion, good. 

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music? 

GD: What spare time?  Hopefully Vin is enjoying retirement, and Ed is enjoying touring around the country.  The rest of us work too much.  I know I work too much! 

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why? 

GD: I wish Lady GaGa would sing one of the songs I wrote for the Danielle character on birth, love, hate, death such as “Honestly” or “Forever” but that would be overkill, she is that good a singer. 

PEV: So, what is next for UniversalDice? 

GD: I really would like to stage the rock opera.  That is the biggest goal because once it is staged somewhere somehow in a musical theater, it can be videotaped and then serve as the basis for a live show.  After then there should be another CD with another theme that we have not yet explored on previous CDs.  I think I know what that theme is but it is too soon to give that up! 

For more information, click to . 



Within the era of Rock and Roll, there have been bands that have taken the idea of the album and made it so much stronger as they created tracks that segue between each other as those tracks combine to create what has been called a Rock Opera. And while the Rock Opera is an idea that has been around for a while, there have only been a relatively few examples of the artform through the era of Rock and Roll when compared to the vast number of releases that have been put out. One band that has taken it upon itself to explore the concept of the Rock Opera is UniversalDice. 

A group that calls Long Island, New York home, the band of UniversalDice consists of: Gerry Dantone – vocals, guitars, programming; Bob Barcus – lead guitar; Ed Canova – bass; Walt Sargent – keyboards; Vin Crica – keyboards. These and other musicians who appear on a few of the tracks help to bring the music of UniversalDice to life. Having already releasing four previous albums, the group is celebrating the release of their fifth album, a 2018 album entitled birth, love, hate, death. 

UniversalDice’s birth, love, hate, death is a 16-track album that deals with love as it survives even after someone dies. While vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gerald Dantone had the biggest part in writing the album, the entire band helped in many ways to bring the album to life. 

As the birth, love, hate, death album from UniversalDice begins, the track called “Welcome to the World” “welcomes” the listener to the release just as the narrator of the track welcomes the newest addition to the family to the world. The track finds the band creating a song that falls solidly into the Rock and Roll genre. The track features 70s-era Rock and Roll that is reminiscent of bands like Badfinger or The Raspberries. While the track begins the 16-track album, the sound of the music and the lyrics contained within are so universal that you could easily imagine the track as the lead-off single for the release. 

The next track of “I Wish I Could Tell You This” slows the pace of the music down while still pushing the storyline forward. The track’s lyrics deal with a mother figure as she looks down on her newborn child and the thoughts that go through her mind. “I Wish I Could Tell You This” is a rather sad tale as the mother reveals her innermost feelings and regrets. 

With the very next track on the release, the band produces an answer to the previous song as the child explains to his mother the way he is feeling in the same type of song that reveals the growing worry in his mind. “Your Son” is a letter set to music. Like the previous track, Gerry Dantone and the rest of UniversalDice create a track with a gentle pace to the music that seems to go rather well with the somber tone of the lyrics. 

The various tracks that make up the birth, love, hate, death album deal with all different areas of life. With the track “I Like It When They Hate It,” the band deals with how people are perceived as they make choices in their lives. On this track, the band takes their music in the direction of eighties pop-rock. The track has a nearly timeless feel to it as it would have easily fit on Top 40 radio back in the eighties as easily as it would fit on radio today. 

With “Better Man,” UniversalDice creates a song that brings to mind the music of someone like The Allman Brothers as the track features Rock and Roll with a bit of a Southern Rock feel to it. The lyrics deal with a man who looks inside himself and decides he can do better. While the slower pace to the track slows things down a little, the song shows a slightly different side to the music from UniversalDice. 

As the listener puts this album on, they experience all sorts of different aspects to life within the lyrics of the songs that make up the album. Separately, the various songs create a strong release of well-written tracks that make use of the band’s various musical influences. The creation of songs using different sounds from the Classic Rock era of Rock and Roll means that lovers of that style of Rock will find something to enjoy throughout the entire length of the album. And with the lyrics creating a storyline that tie each song together, the album does something that few very albums today can do: entertain the listener while keeping them wanting to listener all the way through the release. For those who enjoy finding albums that entertain while also tell a story, the Rock Opera of UniversalDice’s birth, love, hate, death is one album to add to your music collection. 



Band: UniversalDice 

Members: Singer-songwriter-producer: Gerry Dantone; Bob Barcus: lead guitar; Eddie Canova: bass; and Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici: keyboards 

Album: ‘birth, love, hate, death’ 

Encouraging listeners to re-think what they once took for granted in life, particularly in their personal relationships, is a powerful revelation in rock music. UniversalDice is one such unique band that creates stunningly relatable, melodic and beautifully played and arranged modern and classic rock songs that highlight both the benefits and adversities of family and romantic connections. The group’s latest 16-track album from Infidels Records, which is titled ‘birth, love, hate, death,’ features an ambitious and rich lyrical content that challenges the genre’s norm, as the lyrics makes their fans ponder their meaning within their community. 

The songs on ‘birth, love, hate, death’ were all written and produced by UniversalDice’s lead singer, Gerry Dantone, who always naturally crafts relevant and intensely emotionally themes and messages. The record is the second rock opera that was created by the musician, who recalled melodies and qualities that he admires in such bands as the Who, the Beatles, Green Day and the Killers. Dantone has perfected a writing style that’s humanistic, provocative and multi-layered, which is a major highlight on his band’s newest album. The record’s tunes are intriguingly told through the perspectives of a woman named Danielle, as well as several people in her life, including her mother and the man she’s romantically involved with. 

The first entry on ‘birth, love, hate, death’ is its captivating introduction, ‘Welcome to the World.’ Set against a classic rock electric guitar, Dantone’s stellar rock vocals and lyrics encourage people to truly examine their life situation, as he hopes everyone can learn to prosper. The song also inspirationally encourages people to embrace the identities they wish to have every day. 

‘Welcome to the World’ then transitions into the album’s sophomore effort, ‘I Wish I Could Tell You This,’ which is told through the perspective of Danielle’s mom. Driven by stunning country-blues guitar riffs, the track highlights how the mother had a challenging home life as a child, which led to her getting pregnant under difficult situations. She admits that since she loves her child so much, she wants to protect her from experiencing the same emotional pain that she has endured. The pain caused by the situation radiates throughout Dantone’s emotional lyrics and vocals. 

Another noteworthy tune on on ‘birth, love, hate, death’ is the fourth entry, ‘The Prophet,’ which is told through Danielle’s perspective. As one of the few true hard-rock songs on the record, Dantone’s stunning lyrics are driven by powerful guitar riffs and drum beats. The raw emotions of the production chronicles how Danielle longed for the moment that she could escape her life, especially since her father was forcing her to marry a man that he chose for her. After running away from the situation, she finally feels free, and like she control over her own life. 

UniversalDice has also crafted an enthralling track with the album’s sixth tune, ‘Take Me Home,’ which is told through the perspectives of Danielle and the man she’s involved with. The powerful ballad notes how they both so desperately want companionship and safety in life that they’re willing to give up desire to be protected by someone they trust. 

The penultimate entry on ‘birth, love, hate, death,’ which is titled ‘One Day at a Time’ and is told from Danielle’s point-of-view, is a poignant ode to the idea that people never want to lose their positive connections. The woman’s painful experiences in life are beginning to subside, as she has finally found solace in wanting to make the person in her life proud of her. Backed by emotional guitar riffs, Dantone sentimentally croons about how Danielle has finally found positive support in life. 

Danielle’s stunning transformation concludes in the slow-tempo final song on UniversalDice’s epic rock opera, which is titled ‘Forever.’ Dantone penned captivating lyrics that highlight how the woman has finally proclaimed that she will always have love in her heart, even during the bad days. 

Supporting listeners as they re-think what they once took for granted in life, particularly in their personal relationships, is a enthrallingly unique endeavor in rock music. 

Sidestage Magazine


There’s a lot of interesting music coming out of the woodwork these days, and UniversalDice is adding to it with this clever “rock opera” album. If you love music that tells a story, are a fan of musicals, and you like bands that have a vintage sound, this album, Birth Love Hate Death, should be on your wishlist or your playlist. 

UniversalDice is the brainchild of Gerry Dantone, a talented singer/songwriter/producer. Taking a cue from the classics like The Who’s “Tommy” and Green Day’s “American Idiot,” Dantone and UniversalDice have created a 16-track album that is sure to amaze you. 

“Welcome to the World” opens the track, with the representation of birth (in the album title). It’s a moving and upbeat track that kicks things off right. The final song, “Forever,” is about death. In between, you have the rest of the story of life. 

The music is vintage, reminiscent of the aforementioned The Who, with some sounds that could only be described as Beatles-esque. 

This is a pretty stellar album, with a somewhat unique concept. The songs are well written, and the band is well versed in their instruments. Two-thumbs up! 




'Birth Love Hate Death' Album Review 

UniversalDice, the creative effort of Gerry Dantone, has a rock opera in Birth Love Hate Death. It’s a collection of songs that tell the story of life, and it really commands that you listen to the lyrics. The instrumentation on each song fits the theme, from a lively song about birth to a more mellow—yet beautiful—song representing death (I’ll get into that more in a bit). 

As a fan of the “rock opera” genre and musicals alike, I was pretty stoked to learn about this album and get a chance to check it out. In the vein of Green Day’s American Idiot (sans the punk music) and The Who’s Tommy, UniversalDice has their own rock opera that will have you immediately engrossed in the story—the happy bits and even the sad bits. 

There are 16 songs on this amazing recording. Each is telling a story. Each giving you emotions, some emotions you may not have felt in a while. 

Let’s look a bit deeper at a few of the songs. 

“Welcome to the World” is the opening track. According to the press release, this song represents birth. It’s an upbeat track, a great beginning for the album. The vocals really stand out on this song. I love the inspiring lyrics. It all (the entire album) has kind of a vintage rock sound too, which I love. 

“My Hands are Tied” is another peppy song. This one made me think of The Beatles in the beginning. It also had a bit of a “That Thing You Do” feel to it. This is a song that will make you want to get up and dance, even though it has kind of a depressing edge to the lyrics. “I might as well not be around.” Oh, and the guitar solo on this one is sweet. 

“I Love It When They Hate It” had a Depeche Mode/synthpop sounding intro, if only for a moment. The vocals on this one have more of a rough, grainy (smoker’s voice) feel to them. It’s less peppy, but the guitars seriously sound like The Who. This is kind of a less happy sounding song. It adds some contrast to the songs we’ve looked at so far. 

“Better Man” is another track that stood out to me. The vocals, the drums, the guitars—there’s nothing about this track that didn’t please my ears. It’s a mellow rock track that has just a bit of a southern rock/country feel to it. 

“Honestly” is probably one of the most beautiful songs on the album. It’s very honest. It definitely touched base on our fears and feelings when we’re in romantic relationships. We just want honesty about what other people want and expect from us, but often we don’t get that. 

The last song on the album is titled “Forever,” and it is the representation of death in this musical story of life, from birth to death and everything in between. 

I think one of the things that stood out the most to me about this album was the story arc of the songs. You can check it out for yourself on Spotify. I dug the album concept and the talent of the players. 



UniversalDice – Birth, Love, Hate, Death 

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, political and philosophical writer and activist, Gerry Dantone, does not follow the proverbial musical crowd…to say the least. In a sonic culture where “the single” is king, the public’s pop sensibilities are led by the dangling carrot known as “the hook”, and a hit song is only a hit for a minute, Gerry has just created and released his SECOND rock opera album. 

He and his Long Island, NY-based crew of musical troubadours form the self-contained unit known as, UniversalDice, and currently consist of:  Gerry Dantone (vocals, guitars, programming, producer, mixing, mastering), Bob Barcus (lead guitar, production assistance, website, graphic design), Ed Canova (bass), Walt Sargent (keys), and Vin Crici (keys, production assistance). 

“I have a philosophy about lyrics and music. I need to have a reason to write the next song. Each piece needs a reason for existing.” 
—Gerry Dantone 

Together, they’ve forged ahead on previous albums, which include:  2004’s Out of Many, One, 2001’s Mostly True Stories, and their first rock opera, 1999’s My Name is Thomas. All in preparation for their latest effort, the 16-track meg:  Birth, Love, Hate, Death, an epic tale written from the perspective of a Mother, her Son, Danielle (the son’s “damaged” love interest), and Sugar Daddy (Danielle’s pimp); four characters who take the hard road. All in all, it is project designed to have an empowering, consciousness-stirring effect on its listeners. 


Opening the production with, Welcome To The World, Dantone & company pull off a light and airy Steve Miller-esque riff as we welcome the characters to the table of life. 

Lovely and somber, I Wish I Could Tell You This, plays like a letter from the mom to her son, about all the things kids don’t know—for their own protection. A melding of gentle etheric, electric tones, brightly layered background vocals, and thoughtful writing make it special…. 

“Then I got pregnant and was called a whore 

I wish I could tell you this 

They forced me to have you, then he disappeared 

I wish I could tell you this 

Now his shadow is in your eyes, I can’t accept it, I don’t know why 

Nothing against you, it makes me cry 

I wish I could tell you this…” 

Take Me Home feels like something from Phil Collins as our wounded character, Danielle, finds solace in the equally damaged Son. More of those soothingly etheric electric tones create a melancholy melody in a tale of anxious youth. Be sure to stick around for the solo at 4:51.. 

“She lit another cigarette 

I said, Why do you do it? 

And told her it’s going to be her death 

She said, well what does it matter? 

Cause I don’t care how I go, as long as it’s not alone 

Take me home…” 

Our Son sings a sad song of love soured by dark things done in life, in the quick-footed, Danielle, a track which instantly reminded me of The Rembrandts. 

Sugar Daddy boasts remorselessly in, I Love It When They Hate It, as an Allman Brothers-like riff plays on. 

Now we’re talkin’. The Boy throws a bluesy pitch at Danielle in Better Man. The Dice make a worthy argument, and in doing so, created something the laymen can use in future loving-persuasions. 

Man Enough  and I’m No Good for You (OUR FAVORITE TRACK) feel like a pair of dark and substantive John Mayer tracks, as the Boy crashes against the rocky shores of Danielle’s battered past. (Also, No Good… sports a sick acoustic guitar lick.) 

Despite its liberating conclusion—which is that love is all that matters in any moment—we’re just not sure if it worked out for the Boy and Danielle in the album’s closer, Forever, another gentle acoustic number with strong classic-rock threads. 


If you’ve ever lived and breathed, there will be a song in this collection that picks apart some portion of your life. The angst is palpable, and makes me appreciate the fact that I survived the love and loss of my own youth! Musically, it is plain to see that these five gentlemen have earned their stripes, as each track succinctly serves the story first and foremost. Vocally, Dantone’s smokey timbre sounds like some derivative of John Mayer and Don Henley, which creates an emotive force once united with his thoughtful lyrics, such as this passage from Honestly, “If this is love, judge what I do, do I make your dreams all come true? Do I make you feel glad that you’re awake?” 

All in all, UniversalDice’s latest album, the future rock opera, Birth, Love, Hate, Death, is an impressive and commendable effort which required high levels of both cerebral and intuitive creativity. We wish them all the best in getting the project produced into a full-blown rock-opera. 


Steve Miller meets John Mayer… 

Please support UniversalDice by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music! 

Pump it Up


 Produced and written by the band’s creative mastermind, Gerry Dantone, Universal Dice’s birth, love, hate, death sports sixteen tunes with strong musical and lyrical backbones aiding Dantone and his fellow musicians to realize the conceptual ambitions of the piece. Referred to as a “rock opera”, birth, love, hate, death doesn’t go from A-Z in a traditional storytelling mode, but fleshes out the narrative through assigning individual songs to characters within Dantone’s story. 

There’s a variety of sounds Universal Dice brings to bear for their latest release, but Dantone and his bandmates wear their influences on their sleeve – there’s some modern sounds here, but classic rock is, largely, the blueprint for this release with sounds reminiscent of The Who, The Beatles, etc, peeking out from the artistic mix. 

We don’t see albums like this in the mainstream much anymore. Besides the idea that rock is dead, thanks Gene Simmons and the Grammies, more and more artists of every musical type are increasingly building easily digestible releases. Not so for Gerry Dantone and Universal Dice. This aims high and finds its mark. 

It’s got great structure. Welcome to the World is the clear best choice for the album’s first song and sets up Dantone’s story with a minimum of fuss or bluster. His voice is one of the most compelling instruments in Universal Dice’s arsenal and has a quality that gets under listener’s skin from the outset. 

Dantone and the band seamlessly shift gears from a pleasing stride on the first tune into the balladic feel of the second song I Wish I Could Tell You. Anyone suspecting Dantone can’t handle softer material based solely on the first song will be proven wrong by this superbly arranged and deeply felt follow up. 

Your Son and The Prophet offer up evidence of Dantone’s ability to write within a character in such a way that it feels like the stakes are intensely personal, conveying that with his singing, and bringing it together with powerful, yet manifestly different, physically involving arrangements. His talent for pulling off intelligent yet utterly convincing rock and roll is in full flight from the first. 

His talent for arranging vocals is highlighted on songs like My Hands Are Tied and the album’s sole six minute plus cut Take Me Home. The seemingly simpler, more traditionally presented directness of the former song strikes a notable contrast with the more elaborate, even semi orchestrated feel of the latter. The extended length of Take Me Home affords Dantone room to roam as a singer. It pays off with one of the album’s stronger singing performances. 

I Know What I’m Doin’ is another vocal and songwriting highpoint and there’s a light edge of understated menace permeating the tune. There’s also a strong swagger that brings the song closer to listeners than what have otherwise been possible. 

Honestly is a big piano ballad with cascading, swaying arrays of chords carrying the audience from one passage to the next and Dantone’s voice gives it just the right amount of ragged glory. 

Universal Dice bring birth, love, hate, death to a close with an acoustic driven tandem of tunes, One Day at a Time and Forever, that avoid any hint of the expected pat endings some might assume Dantone is tempted to settle for. They bring the album’s narrative to an unexpectedly graceful ending, actually, when you consider much of the artful, but more than a little raucous at different points, rock and roll Dantone and the band serve up over the preceding fourteen tracks. Universal Dice’s fourth album is a swing for the fences, without a question, but it comes off totally natural sounding throughout and never succumbs to excess. 



A little over a year ago, I first began posting an occasional "political" commentary on E2TG. As I stated then, it was not something I wanted to do and that I did not really consider most of what I wrote as "political" (although it can be a fine line sometimes). As I intimated then, and still feel strongly today, there should be room at the table for people who hold a wide variety of political and social positions. At it's ideal and best, the United States (and our leaders) should be a shining example of lively debate and measured compromise.  Where we find ourselves now is embroiled and entrenched in hyper-partisanship and obstruction. Our elections are compromised in so many ways. The effects of Citizen's United (an Orwellian named law) are devastating to democracy and harmful to the republic. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, and unchecked foreign influences are the nails in the coffin. 

I am cautiously hopeful about the mid-term elections, and I still cannot imagine that the current president will last his full term - but even if everything goes the way I want it to, we will still have miles to go... 

I try not to let it get me down.  I do what I can, but the results are mostly not within my control. Life can still be a beautiful thing. Friendships and family and the beauty of the world. The mysteries of science and time and space surround us. 

For me, music remains a source of strength. Songs that comfort, songs that excite, songs that motivate action, songs that inspire.... 

E2TG has provided me with an incredible opportunity to hear a ton of music that I might otherwise never hear, and to meet talented people who are pushing against long odds and seeming disinterest at times - to do what they feel compelled to do.... 

So, I push on - as I approach seven years of E2TG - offering my small contribution by putting music out there hopefully in an interesting way. 

Let's shuffle the "New Music" playlist on this Trending Tuesday… 

"Welcome to the World" by UniversalDice 

And we close things out with the opening track from Birth. Love. Hate. Death by this band from Long Island - led by Gerry Dantone. The band began in 1995.  Their music is inspired by "classic" rock bands like The Who, The Beatles, Green Day, The Killers and more, but their own sound is unlike those bands. There is a strength and coherency that recalls the golden age of rock and the rock opera. But this is timely music. 



Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Shake 'n' Bake Mix 

My spirits were lifted a bit by a fun evening.  Recorded a future Double Shot show with Sue and Mark. Then, headed to Dee's Country Cocktail Lounge for another awesome Madison Guild Monday. This time hosted by E2TG favorite Andrew Adkins.  In addition to Adkins, the night saw a great performance by Daryl Dasher - who I had seen before, and  a few folks I had a not seen Ariana Hodes, Mike Wheeler, and Bri Murphy.  A couple of performers were unable to be there, so in typical Nashville/Madison fashion, some special guests helped fill the bill. Bryant Carter (who I saw for the first time) and three E2TG favorites (including two past E2TG Artists of the Year (Nick Nace, Jon Latham, and Darrin Bradbury).  All that and I great hang with some awesome folks. 

I have a ton of music that I need to get added to my new music playlist, I will hopefully get to that tonight.  In the meantime, let's clear some space. 

It's Tuesday. Here's what trending today! 

"I'm No Good for You" by UniversalDice 

Next, we have the return of UniversalDice featuring Gerry Dantone from their album birth, love, hate, death. The band describes their music as classic rock, and their latest album is a rock opera. As I have said before, neither of these descriptions were particularly appealing to me personally (I'm not knocking the description) but I am glad I gave it a listen, because I have really enjoyed this music over the months we have been featuring it.  This is just a solid, good song. 



Universal Dice birth, love, hate, death 

Submitted by Lance Wright 

The rock opera opus from Universal Dice entitled birth, love, hate, death marks the creative high point for writer/musician/activist Gerry Dantone and his pet project. Universal Dice makes great use of some of the best East Coast-based session players available but, despite Dantone’s primacy as the project’s creative leader, Universal Dice has a stable cast of collaborators and comes across as a real band with the sort of chemistry we hope for from such configurations. The sixteen songs included on the release makes up a compelling whole and tells a story through the voices of its characters, but the songs likewise stand well on their own, boast considerable commercial appeal, and carries on in an identifiable tradition that has many admirers. Universal Dice’s birth, love, hate, death is unique music guaranteed to make its listeners think and feel in equal measure. 

Universal Dice brings us right into the imaginative world of birth, love, hate, death with the first song “Welcome to the World” and there’s an effective sweep without ever getting carried away with itself. Gerry Dantone’s singing has the dusty road tone to it, bluesy in origin, that some singers aspire to their whole lives without ever capturing – it is far from some technical marvel, but it’s a voice and sensibility that makes maximum use of his instrument. The lead guitar gets an early highlight with its poignant contributions to the second tune “I Wish I Could Tell You This” while one of the album’s first hard-hitting rock moments comes with the tune “The Prophet” – its propulsive drumming sends the song stratospheric from the outset and has an intensely rhythmic slant. Multi-part harmony vocals are an important part of the collection but probably never more so than they are on the tune “My Hands Are Tied” – to such an extent that the song actually begins with a brief acapella passage. “Take Me Home” is easily the album’s most structured number, an opinion supported by how it dwarfs many of the other songs in terms of running time, but it shows Universal Dice experiencing equal success working in a distinctly different vein. 

The bright alt-rock jump of “Danielle” has a quick lift off and speeds along at a brisk pace with some warm, clearly recorded piano glittering in the mix. Guitar is a prime mover on birth, love, hate, death and one of the songs best utilizing the six-string strengths at Universal Dice’s disposal is the distinctly retro-minded “I Love It When They Hate It”, an excellent example, as well, of how the band mixes things up so well when compared with its successor “I Know What I’m Doin’”. The latter song is one of the more memorable character-driven tracks on the release and gets its point of view across quite vividly. “Better Man” doubles down on the rock muscle we heard in the earlier “The Prophet” without ever losing any of the discernment that makes this such a memorable release. Despite its ambition, tastefulness and focus are bywords on this sixteen song effort and birth, love, hate, death never fails to entertain while it challenges its audience. 



Universal Dice – birth, love, hate, death 


Universal Dice is one of those bands that have been plugging away on the margins of the mainstream music scene for a number of years and never getting the widespread attention they deserve. Their latest effort, a sixteen song rock opera called birth, love, hate, death, will likely make some head way with them raising their artistic profile while still throwing down a gauntlet of sorts for listeners. These are easily digestible tunes, but main songwriter Gerry Dantone isn’t happy with just entertaining audiences with some snappy collection of cuts – instead, he brings accessibility and intelligence together in a single package that manages to balance giving a good time to the audience while still asking them to involve themselves with interesting characters that Dantone’s songwriting gives powerful voice to. It’s an effort from front to back that should more than satisfy the band’s longtime fans and earn them reams of newfound respect. 

“Welcome to the World”, “The Prophet”, “Take Me Home”, and “Danielle” are representative of a particular style that works well for Universal Dice over and over again on this release. The mid-tempo rock strut or slide, with accompanying strong guitar work and drumming, repeatedly gets a workout on birth, love, hate, death and finds its finest expression in the aforementioned songs, especially the second and third. “Welcome to the World”, however, shouldn’t be glossed over as a great opener for an album is an increasingly rare thing. There’s a more considered line of attack taken with their slightly slowed down counterparts like “Your Son”, “I Love It When They Hate It”, and “I Know What I’m Doin’”, among others, and that’s evidence of a moodier character driving these songs and they are as artfully handled as any of the earlier tunes. Dantone largely avoids the ballad form on the album until its well into its second half, but the early cut “I Wish I Could Tell You This” perfectly embodies how these tunes come across like there’s considerable personal stakes involved in this work while still existing within the confines of Dantone’s storytelling. 

The album’s final lap ranks among its most interesting features. Like any good plotter, Dantone realizes he needs to wind down his storyline in a considered way that listeners who’ve stuck it out with the album will appreciate and the final tally of “Man Enough, “I’m No Good for You”, “Sleeping Alone”, “One Day at a Time”, and the ending “Forever” moves the audience through a variety of musical touches with the same skillfulness we’ve experienced earlier, but conscious that things are coming to a close. The acoustic strains of the final two songs stands out against the largely rock leanings of this effort and finishes off birth, love, hate, death with the discerning sensibility you might expect. Universal Dice has produced progressively bolder and bolder works since they first debuted and their latest ranks among the most ambitious efforts released in recent memory. Gerry Dantone’s rock opera is a fully realized heart and mind experience. 


Mike Yoder 



Album Review 

Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 

The sixteen song rock opera from New York area based Universal Dice dubbed birth, love, hate, death is a truly dizzying spin through an array of dyed in the wool rock tunes of various sorts. It’s a rarity, as well, for another key reason – the album’s conceptual nature is a far cry from a modern scene where mainstream rock albums are frequently diminished to grab bags of by the number riffage. Songwriter, musician, activist, and lead singer Gerry Dantone’s avowed intent is to make audience’s feel and think when they hear his songs and he accomplishes that with this collection thanks to his own abundant gifts and a first class cadre of supporting musicians behind him. It’s a stellar effort from front to back and Dantone’s obvious as a heart attack flair for writing songs from a character’s point of view proves to be super convincing throughout. 

He definitely favors some traditional elements in his songwriting. The instrumental wind-up kicking off the album opener “Welcome to the World” is a recurring motif of his work and it’s a charmer every time. It gives the album an effortless lift off with some great, tasteful electric guitar and a breezy rhythm section performance pushing everything along. “I Wish I Could Tell You This” gives listeners an interesting change of mood almost immediately and the sinewy attributes of Dantone’s singing are just as effective turned toward a higher register and much more balladic material. “Your Son” is a very emotive piece with a dramatic movement to it that does every bit as much as Dantone’s words to augment the storytelling. Dantone and his musical partners in this band have done an outstanding job of creating musical landscapes for this work that are just as gripping, in their own right, as the array of voices Dantone “tries on” for this song cycle. “The Prophet” is one of the few inklings of a hard rock side emerging from Dantone’s songwriting and the powerful drums are especially memorable. The production captures them blasting away with a raw, near-tribal spirit. 

The presumed musical centerpiece of the album, based on its length alone, is “Take Me Home”. There are a number of moments on Universal Dice’s fourth album aspiring to classic rock balladry and this is the album’s premier example of Dantone and company’s experiments with the style. “Danielle” has a good match up of bright, surging guitars and an equally personable piano track underpinning its melodic strengths while Dantone delivers a nicely exuberant vocal performance. “I Know What I’m Doin’” and its follow up “Better Man” presents two distinctly different musical sides. The first embodies much of the nuance characterizing the album’s tracks and probably rates as the most effective character “piece” on the recording while “Better Man” has a much rockier presentations thanks to the more forceful presence of lead guitar. It has a very Tom Petty-like amble to it that many will enjoy. The final two cuts on birth, love, hate, death definitely show Dantone and the band settling things down for a gradual ending rather than a ham-fisted one. Universal Dice’s fourth album is a real winner from the first and has the sort of realized ambition that keeps listeners coming back to a release again and again. 


Mindy McCall 



Universal Dice – Birth, Love, Hate, Death

Produced and written by the band’s creative mastermind, Gerry Dantone, Universal Dice’s birth, love, hate, death sports sixteen tunes with strong musical and lyrical backbones aiding Dantone and his fellow musicians to realize the conceptual ambitions of the piece. Referred to as a “rock opera”, birth, love, hate, death doesn’t go from A-Z in a traditional storytelling mode, but fleshes out the narrative through assigning individual songs to characters within Dantone’s story. 

There’s a variety of sounds Universal Dice brings to bear for their latest release, but Dantone and his bandmates wear their influences on their sleeve – there’s some modern sounds here, but classic rock is, largely, the blueprint for this release with sounds reminiscent of The Who, The Beatles, etc, peeking out from the artistic mix. 

We don’t see albums like this in the mainstream much anymore. Besides the idea that rock is dead, thanks Gene Simmons and the Grammies, more and more artists of every musical type are increasingly building easily digestible releases. Not so for Gerry Dantone and Universal Dice. This aims high and finds its mark. 

It’s got great structure. Welcome to the World is the clear best choice for the album’s first song and sets up Dantone’s story with a minimum of fuss or bluster. His voice is one of the most compelling instruments in Universal Dice’s arsenal and has a quality that gets under listener’s skin from the outset. 

Dantone and the band seamlessly shift gears from a pleasing stride on the first tune into the balladic feel of the second song I Wish I Could Tell You. Anyone suspecting Dantone can’t handle softer material based solely on the first song will be proven wrong by this superbly arranged and deeply felt follow up. 

Your Son and The Prophet offer up evidence of Dantone’s ability to write within a character in such a way that it feels like the stakes are intensely personal, conveying that with his singing, and bringing it together with powerful, yet manifestly different, physically involving arrangements. His talent for pulling off intelligent yet utterly convincing rock and roll is in full flight from the first. 

His talent for arranging vocals is highlighted on songs like My Hands Are Tied and the album’s sole six minute plus cut Take Me Home. The seemingly simpler, more traditionally presented directness of the former song strikes a notable contrast with the more elaborate, even semi orchestrated feel of the latter. The extended length of Take Me Home affords Dantone room to roam as a singer. It pays off with one of the album’s stronger singing performances. 

I Know What I’m Doin’ is another vocal and songwriting highpoint and there’s a light edge of understated menace permeating the tune. There’s also a strong swagger that brings the song closer to listeners than what have otherwise been possible. 

Honestly is a big piano ballad with cascading, swaying arrays of chords carrying the audience from one passage to the next and Dantone’s voice gives it just the right amount of ragged glory. 

Universal Dice bring birth, love, hate, death to a close with an acoustic driven tandem of tunes, One Day at a Time and Forever, that avoid any hint of the expected pat endings some might assume Dantone is tempted to settle for. They bring the album’s narrative to an unexpectedly graceful ending, actually, when you consider much of the artful, but more than a little raucous at different points, rock and roll Dantone and the band serve up over the preceding fourteen tracks. Universal Dice’s fourth album is a swing for the fences, without a question, but it comes off totally natural sounding throughout and never succumbs to excess. 

If you enjoyed a preview from Universal Dice’s birth, love, hate, death check out the official website for the band by clicking here . Give them a like on Facebook by clicking here . 



CD REVIEW: birth, love, hate, death by Universal Dice 
RJ Frometa 

Universal Dice, led by singer/songwriter and musician Gerry Dantone, has quietly made waves in the indie scene for a number of years distinguished by his capacity for writing fresh variations imbued with a touch of the personal in recognizable forms. The project’s fourth studio release birth, love, hate, death, however, ratchets things a level higher than before thanks to the collection’s naked ambition and Dantone and company’s ability to realize those aims. birth, love, hate, death includes sixteen tracks, none exceeding the six minute thirty second mark and most running between four and five minutes, that are as fully fleshed out musically as they are lyrically and the album’s ability to manifest a musical voice every bit as strong as its storytelling strengths. There’s no question that Dantone and Universal Dice are willing to tackle the big themes rather than just contenting themselves with formulaic nonsense and listeners are better for the experience. 

Dantone has a rare and real skill for writing from differing points of view and it’s one of the hallmarks pushing birth, love, hate, death over the top. The aforementioned skill is clear from the first song “Welcome to the World” as Dantone does an excellent job describing a dawning consciousness meeting the world for the first time. With some noted exceptions, Universal Dice’s sound has a traditional rock music bent, albeit flavored with the personalities of Dantone and his band mates, but it’s deceptively ambitious. He is clearly attempting to use the straightforward urgency of rock and roll as a vehicle for an intelligent, nearly literary, tale and the union proves engaging and entertaining alike. His talent for writing emotionally affecting material with power separate from the storyline peaks with cuts like the second song “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, “Your Son”, and “I’m No Good for You”. The first is a near ballad with piercing lead guitar licks laden into the song and an evocative Dantone vocal. The mix of laconic and impassioned informing Dantone’s vocal on “Your Son” gives added weight to its lyrics and its unusual arrangement makes it stand out further. The final song of that trio, “I’m No Good for You”, has a hard hitting and largely acoustic sound with some economical electric guitar slashing in for good measure. Dantone’s singing has an edgy quality that’s difficult to dismiss. He’s clearly a fan of harmony vocals and one of the best uses of the feature comes with the song “My Hands Are Tied” and it sounds fresh and live despite its studio origins. 

“I Love It When They Hate It” has a stronger classic rock vibe than a lot of the other tunes on this album, but that shouldn’t suggest it lacks vitality. It’s a near raucous number that a lot of listeners will enjoy and reflects his talent for writing “in character”. “I Know What I’m Doin’” has a darker shadow passing over the song than we hear on much of birth, love, hate, death, but it’s never a drag to hear and, instead, may be the finest example of his ability to inhabit a character we hear on the collection. Universal Dice closes things up with a finessed final curtain entitled “Forever”, but Dantone manages to avoid the clichéd trappings implicit in the title while still meeting all our expectations. It’s a perfect ending to one of the better releases you’ll encounter in 2018. 


by William Elgin 



Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 


Written and produced by Gerry Dantone, Universal Dice is an ambitious rock project and their latest release birth, love, hate, death is being billed as a flat out rock opera that throws back to the great work of everyone from Queen to The Who.  With 16 songs and none of them sounding very much alike, even though certain muscular musical ideas and serious lyrical themes that tackle life, death, love, loss, triumph and failure tie the entirety of this record into a cohesive whole.  Simply put, these songs belong with one another and anybody that’s got a hankering for some forward thinking yet oddly classic, blues-nuanced rock n’ roll is going to go buck wild for this release. 

Songwriter/singer/bandleader Dantone is joined by a host of rock-solid musicians including lead guitarist Bob Barcus, bassist Eddie Canova and keyboardists Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici that make for a very full, very powerful sound with a big, bold backbone that hits hard more than it goes for the soft stuff (although the band is adept at ANY mood).  The album wanders between full on rock n’ roll bangers to slithering blues guitar deviations to poppy-inflected numbers that even bring home a few honest to goodness ballads along the way. 

The album starts off with pure abandon as the full-on rocker, “Welcome to the World’s” road ready, hard rock riffs go for broke only to simmer down to a slow boil for “I Wish I Could Tell You This” late 70s, knife-edge power blues complete with wah-soaked guitar licks and baroque organ playing.  It’s a sonic one-two, opening punch that kicks and sticks to the memory and practically cements the record as an instant classic.  Of course they still need to maintain momentum beyond the intro couplet but these guys know their stuff and maintain momentum they do.  There are some hints of Seger and other crunchy singer/songwriter legends on the crawly “Your Son” which furthers those big, brutish blues-inflections, the overcast lifting once again to provide some no-frills, riff-ready hard yet pop-leaned rock on “The Prophet’s” mix of KISS and The Who.  “My Hands Are Tied” follows a similar strutting attack pattern but goes for broke on the chorus harmony vocals, where a cosmic melody really twists the tune into a slick sing-a-long number.  I think Dantone himself does all of the percussion programming for his group, but only if you listen on close can you tell that the drumming is electronic and not manually performed and it too enhances the record in this quirky, cool way that perfectly works for the album’s epic intentions. 

“Take Me Home” is a real crunchy, crisp-riffed composition with some of the guitar-fury and rhythmic heft lifting on the heavily piano enhanced, positively gorgeous vocal musing and melodies of “Danielle.”  Again, these cats have far more sides and moods than the duo of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…  It seems that the record never loses its peak moments and continually keeps cresting as it goes from strength to strength.  Whether pulling off some keyboard/vocal tenderness with “Honestly” and soulful closer “Forever,” or coming straight from the rock n’ roll gut on “I Love It When They Hate It” and “Better Man,” Universal Dice can do absolutely nothing wrong on this record.  If you long for the days when musical giants walked and ruled the Earth, then birth, love, death, hate will be exactly the kind of sonic reminder you’ve been hoping to hear for ages.  What an album, what a band; highly recommended! 


David Shouse 



Universal Dice 

Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 


Led by writer, musician and producer Gerry Dantone, Universal Dice is a pack of rock n’ roller that perfectly splice an old school ethic/style with some modern hard knocks; birth, love, hate, death is the band’s first full-length recording since 2005 and it’s obvious that they haven’t spent that time sitting on their laurels.  This 16-song monster of an album is full to the brim with hooks, slicing riffs, Bob Barcus’ pyrotechnic lead guitar and whipping rhythmic churns that keep the action propulsive and always moving forward. 

Full-throttle opener “Welcome to the World” harnesses some massive, later era Who-influenced rock n’ roll shakedown that’s the perfectly split between fiery guitar work, hard-hitting rhythms and tough lead vocals with just the right amount of harmonic counterpoints.  It’s nearly the polar opposite of the immediately following slow-burner “I Wish I Could Tell You This” and its crying slide guitar blues, moderate tempos and the gorgeous Hammond organ/keyboard work of dual synth-players Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici.  Barcus’ wailing leads are just one of the song’s many highlights; among the finest of those highlights being Dantone’s smoky crooning voice and his darkly ebbing songwriting in general.  One can hear a little bit of David Gilmour solo influence throughout this masterpiece track.  “Your Son” keeps a similar, smoldering style in place but allows some acoustic guitars to breathe through the walls of sound for a creeping folk/blues underpinning that smokes like a runaway steam engine that could go off the rails at any moment but doesn’t thanks to some real controlled percussive work and taut bass lines that rope in the howling vocals and scorching, twanging electric riffs.  “The Prophet” goes for a more noticeable arena feel with its energetic, upbeat keyboards and strutting staccato riffs and rhythmic curves that are prime Thin Lizzy all the way (and more modernly speaking, in the vein of the hugely underrated Lizzy lineage band, Black Star Riders).  The multi-tiered, layered vocal harmonies that open “My Hands are Tied” have a chorale-oriented, Beatles’ touch to them that dissipates during the swaggering, hard-rocking verses but return to make the chorus a true gem of melodic reflection.  Sprawling and epic in its intentions, “Take me home” is a thundering blues number with pop and psyche bends that gives way to the sunny day, mid-tempo balladry of “Danielle’s” riff n’ piano kissed rock n’ roll attack. 

Returning to a dusky blues and some textured acoustic guitars for a perfect combination of varying rock n’ roll styles, “I Love It When They Hate It” again swings and spirals into frenetic Thin Lizzy blasts that are defined to a tee by some stellar, twin guitar antics and incendiary harmonized guitar leads.  Elsewhere, “I Know What I’m Doing” reverts to primal blues with organ flourishes, the riff-heavy hard rock of “Better Man” lays into the heavy stuff but still leaves plenty of room for atmospheric layering, “Honestly” is a piano/vocal ballad of a very high quality, “Man Enough” and “I’m No Good for You” lay into hard blues riffs that alternate with winding acoustic guitar beauty, “Sleeping Alone” is a sweeping, weepy 80s groove done up with stronger, more modern production, “One Day at a Time” focuses heavily on the group’s stunning acoustic side, leaving closer “Forever” to evaporate in a gorgeous mist of twinkling piano and bluesy vocals. 

Universal Dice pulls out all of the stops on this monstrous masterwork.  With diverse songwriting flair, excellent instrumentation, meaningful vocals and lyrics and a production job that leaves a ton of space for each instrument to cut through, there’s absolutely not a single bum note or tune in the bunch.  Anyone that wants a slice of REAL DEAL, vintage rock n’ roll done with an updated outlook on the sound must absolutely score a copy of birth, love, hate, death… it simply doesn’t get any better than this. 


Dale Butcher 



Universal Dice Takes us Through ‘birth, love, hate, death’ 

Gerry Dantone, and his band Universal  Dice  are in some senses, men out of time. It is the music listening public’s immense misfortune that songwriters and bands confine themselves to such a narrow range of possibilities in our modern age, but in an increasingly imploding and transforming musical scene, observers certainly can’t blame those seeking to sustain their lifestyles on the profits from their music alone for pandering to audience’s desires and forsaking their own inner voice. Some have no inner voice to forsake and are content to be entertainers. There’s no crime in that. 

However, Gerry Dantone’s aspirations remind us of an earlier time in our history, not far removed from today, when musicians and composers working in popular music looked to stretch the form to accommodate the wide breadth of their dreams and express the seemingly inexpressible. The fourth studio release from Dantone’s band Universal Dice birth, love, hate, death is one of those albums and carries listeners on an amazing, bracing journey over sixteen songs. 

“Welcome to the World” welcomes listeners to birth, love, hate, death’s musical world with a dyed in the wool rock and roll vamp introduction soon transforming into a brisk, but never careening guitar driven groove. There’s a leathery, weather-worn quality to Dantone’s voice that will seem familiar to listeners since it has so many natural antecedents, but it has its own distinct character and he never seems like an imitator. 

He shows flexibility for adapting that voice with the song “I Wish I Could Tell You This” without losing any of its hard-worn emotional gravitas and the accompanying music for the song is on target as well. Particularly the guitar. “The Prophet” is a hard-hitting and physical workout for both Dantone and his accompanying musicians thanks to its intensely rhythmic thrust and the omnipresence of an effective drum track pushing everything along. Judged on the fact it’s the longest album track, “Take Me Home” strikes me as one of the album’s most pivotal tunes, at least for fleshing out the story, and it provides another of Dantone’s more affecting vocal performances. 

Universal Dice finds dichotomy in their music 

“I Love It When They Hate It” and “I Know What I’m Doin’” are a particularly effective tandem of tracks with a clear debt to Dantone’s influences while still bringing a very modern feel to bear. This isn’t coming out on a major label with a big budget, so it’s doubly impressive and indicative of their commitment the way Universal Dice’s fourth album comes off as a polished professional effort. The latter of those two songs are particularly strong, but both maintain the same high standard characterizing the album from the first. 

“Better Man” has a harder rock edge than many of the other songs on birth, love, hate, death, but it’s handled with the same artful touch we hear in the surrounding cuts. “Man Enough” has a lot of that same rock fire, albeit burning in a different way and the aching “I’m No Good For You” flies the same flag without ever sounding like some knock off of the two aforementioned songs. The album’s rock trappings fall away with the final songs “One Day at a Time” and “Forever”. There’s fall much more squarely in the camp the band’s avowed Beatles influence without ever sounding like a Fab Four imitator. It’s amazing how Dantone and Universal Dice recall the past without ever being beholden to it and prove, conclusively, that you can make new uses out of these long standing forms. 

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Find more Univeral Dice music on SPOTIFY: 

    -review by Laura Dodero 



Universal Dice – birth, love, hate, death 


Gerry Dantone, the musical and creative heart of Universal Dice, shoots higher than ever before with the project’s latest release birth, love, hate, death. The sixteen song rock opera features some of the finest instrumental talents working in popular music today playing alongside the multi-faceted Dantone and the totality of the experience amounts to one of 2018’s most entertaining and illuminating ventures. The band promotes themselves as one of the few outfits or collectives working today who succeed in bringing an intense mental and emotional experience together in a musical package for music devotees and they certainly live up to their billing. The variety of textures present on this release make it an equally memorable experience as Universal Dice manages to transmute their influences into something recognizable, yet uniquely their own. birth, love, hate, death is an invigorating odyssey from its first to last note and represents a throwback of sorts to a time when popular music composers reached for something more than Top 40 fame. 

When you “step back” from this album and look at its tracklisting, you can appreciate what Dantone and his collaborators accomplish with this recording. birth, love, hate, death. The title pitches the idea that they’re taking on The Big Picture with this song cycle and every turn in its “storyline” and character development is packed with some coherent idea of forward movement that brings us through the songs. Tracks like the opener “Welcome to the World”, “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, “Take Me Home”, and “Danielle” are obviously key cuts to realizing Dantone’s songwriting goals on this album, but they are also quality standalone numbers that boast impressive commercial appeal. The level of commitment that the musicians bring to these tunes, in particular, has a peculiar personal urgency in each vocal performance as well and Dantone, far from a traditionally beautiful singer, deserves major props for really bringing something to the table that charges these tracks up even further. He shows he’s great at shifting his game up as a singer, as well, without ever getting far away from what makes him so memorable. 

There’s more than a little classic rock shining through on the cut “I Love It When They Hate It”, but it’s never handled in such a way that it sounds like imitation or a tired retread. One of birth, love, hate, death’s more successful compositions comes with the track “I Know What I’m Doin’” because it’s such a fully realized performance. There’s a much different mood surrounding this performance, as well, which makes it stand apart from the typical song in this vein. “Man Enough” and “I’m No Good for You” pair up rather nicely – the first is one of those gently striding rock moments that Dantone and Universal Dice handle so well while “I’m No Good For You” has a memorable, acoustic driven groove and thunderous drums leading the way. The album’s second longest number comes near its end with “Sleeping Alone” and it’s an artfully sweet piano-driven ballad with some nice vocal touches and shifts into outright, almost anthemic, rock that’s particularly effective. The album closes with the comparatively muted “Forever” and Dant and Universal Dice show listeners, a final time, their talent for avoiding the clichéd turns that would surely mar this release in lesser hands. birth, love, hate, death goes looking to make a big statement and does with a minimum amount of pomp or circumstance. 


Joshua Stryde 



Universal Dice – birth, love, hate, death 

Posted on February 5, 2018 

Universal Dice – birth, love, hate, death 


The fourth release from Gerry Dantone’s Universal Dice project is a sixteen song self-described rock opera entitled birth, love, hate, death. Despite his omnipresence as both a vocalist and songwriter, Universal Dice never comes off as some glorified solo vehicle. There’s no question that his musical collaborators exert tremendous effort in complementing his songwriting vision for the release and, even more impressively, do so without falling prey to any of the heavy-handed tactics lesser artists might have employed to explore Dantone’s themes and ambitions. There’s a breathtaking array of styles on birth, love, hate, death and they handle each one with the same amount of sure handed musicality. Much of birth, love, hate, death adheres to traditional rock music formulas, but Universal Dice definitely imprint each of the sixteen cuts with their own personality while still serving up something recognizable that many audiences will admire. 

“Welcome to the World” is about what you might think it’s about, but it’s never either too obvious or coy. Instead, it’s a relatively unassuming opening with a nice stride and a good mix between the rhythm section and guitars. Dantone has a vocal quality reminiscent of Tom Petty or Jakob Dylan, but the lyrical content doesn’t contain a lot of those aforementioned songwriters’ more poetic touches. Instead, Dantone’s writing aspires to a more conversational form of poetry and finds its mark with songs like this. “I Wish I Could Tell You This” covers its lyrical territory with a similar style, never affecting a pose, but the musical arrangement is clearly much more in a rock ballad tradition. Dantone and the band wear their influences on their sleeve; it isn’t difficult to imagine a song like this appearing on some seventies classic, but it also has a modern sheen that won’t remove it from a younger frame of reference. “The Prophet” has the hardest hitting drum track thus far on birth, love, hate, death and it sets a huge tone for the song straight out of the gate. These sort of intense rhythms make a number of songs on this album really pop and this stands among the first rank of such tracks. 

“My Hands Are Tied” is a bright, sparkling tune with a nice mix of athletic drums running alongside acoustic and electric guitar. Nothing is overstated here and the song, as a whole, is perfectly calibrated to breeze past the listener convincingly and gracefully. “Take Me Home” is the album’s longest track and has some ballad-like tendencies despite its relatively uptempo jaunt. Dantone and his collaborators definitely favor a certain pace for birth, love, hate, death’s tunes, but there’s never any real sense of repetition and the extended running time of this tune, clocking in at over six minutes, never feel exhaustive. “I Love It When They Hate It” is a good example of Dantone and Universal Dice’s talent for invoking classic rock clichés and poses without ever sounding too imitative and much of the credit for that here must be borne by the excellent production job elevating the entire album. “I’m No Good for You” takes a familiar sentiment in popular song and gives it an engaging new coat of musical paint with an energetic mid-tempo arrangement contrasting a strong acoustic guitar sound with authoritative drumming. “Sleeping Alone” is one of the album’s best tunes, anchored by beautifully played piano, and defines the album’s quiet final half in an uniquely artistic way. birth, love, hate, death has a long run at sixteen songs, but sticking with it isn’t hard and it proves to be a highly worthwhile experience. 


Montey Zike 



Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 

The latest album from Gerry Dantone’s Universal Dice project is extravagantly titled birth, love, hate, death, but Dantone’s songwriting and conceptual ideas more than live up to the album title’s grandiose implications. Dantone, a man of many talents, is a songwriting talent clearly cut from a traditional cloth, but he nonetheless knows how to bring those foundational influences into perfect accord with a modern sound an audience of today will enthusiastically respond to. It’s accessible, but never achieves that accessibility at the expense of an intelligent presentation. This is music that doesn’t take short cuts and never cheats the listener will still ably depicting Dantone’s storyline for the rock opera. The story advances through songs structured as voiced by particular characters and, while things are never quite told in a A-Z sort of way, attentive listeners will be able to follow along without straining their attention. 

“Welcome to the World” is a note perfect vehicle for bringing audiences into Universal Dice’s imaginative world and it comes across with loose-limbed confidence and sharpened musical instincts. It’s hard to not enjoy how well Universal Dice weaves a lot of musical activity into an unified whole while it never seems unduly cluttered. This is particularly apparent on the second song “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, one of the album’s best ballad-like songs. There’s some real musical drama in the jangling line of musical attack Universal Dice takes with “Your Son” and it puts a bright early spotlight on some of Dantone’s best work writing “In character”.  One of the album’s best moments in a rock vein comes with the track “The Prophet” and it’s largely thanks to hammering drums that maintain an impressive pattern throughout. There’s a lot of vocal harmonies making birth, love, hate, death’s songwriting extra memorable but few, if any, songs present that so well as the track “My Hands Are Tied “ and, despite the obvious studio construction behind such parts, they come across like they’d be convincing in a live setting. 

“Take Me Home”, befitting its status as the album’s lengthiest track, likewise has a constructed feel that, thankfully, never comes off ultimately sounding like a put on. Dantone doesn’t have a classically schooled voice, but the production almost always frames his singing quite well on birth, love, hate, death and this song is probably the best example of the nuance he’s capable of bringing into a piece. “Danielle” is about as classic as rock and roll songwriting gets while still sporting a distinctly modern flair that’ few of Universal Dice’s contemporaries could hope to pull off. “Better Man” brings out the guitars bigger and brasher than before on the album and the punishing drumming characterizing a couple of the earlier songs returns here with dizzying authority. “I’m No Good for You” is another track where the drumming makes a big difference, but the most significant musical relationship in this song is established between the percussion and acoustic guitar. The start-stop nature of the arrangement provides a perfect framework for the tune. birth, love, hate, death comes to a refreshingly hopeful, yet intelligent and clear-eyed, ending with the songs “One Day at a Time” and “Forever” that underline, without ever becoming heavy handed, the essentially personal nature of these songs for Gerry Dantone. It never comes off as a solo effort though. Universal Dice definitely come across as a band and their fourth album is their finest recording yet. 


Scott Wigley 



 Universal Dice – birth, love, hate, death 

By: Alonzo Evans 

Universal Dice has made a growing reputation for themselves as one of the best indie rock acts working today thanks to how they follow through on their unique mission statement to make audiences both think and feel. Many bands and artists trumpet such ambitions, but few follow up on the way we hear this band make good on the claim. The sixteen songs on their fourth album birth, love, hate, death are obviously aiming here than your garden variety rock tune and, despite their not being a clear cut linear narrative for listeners to hang onto with this conceptual outing, there’s still no trouble following along with Dantone’s character developments. Some of these songs are particularly outstanding as Dantone’s weathered voice shows a particular talent for “inhabiting roles” and makes the accessible music mean even more than what it might have otherwise. birth, love, hate, death is as impressive of a release in 2017 as you’ll encounter and stands to surely gain even more attention in this new year. 

Universal Dice starts off the album with “Welcome to the World”, an obvious opener for more reasons than one, and it introduces both longtime fans and newcomers alike to the band’s core sound for this release. It’s unaffected, tasteful mid tempo rock for most of the album with a distinctly classic/blue collar bent and Gerry Dantone brings some additional instruments into the mix along the way that effectively vary the formula. Acoustic guitar is an important cog in what makes birth, love, hate, death successful and we get our first full taste of its effects on the release with “Your Son”, an early monument to Dantone’s talent for bringing a talent to writing in character to bear that goes far beyond the ken of many of his contemporaries. These are songs harkening back to an earlier time in popular music’s history when listeners and composers alike placed a higher premium on audience’s enjoyment of first person songs that manage to flesh out a story. “Take Me Home”, the album’s long number at six minutes sixteen seconds, is a surprisingly atmospheric pivot point in the running order that comes, not coincidentally, at the album’s halfway point. Dantone and the band illustrate their imaginative musicality by taking the album’s template to this point and spicing it up a little without veering away from their identity. 

“Danielle” is one of the album’s lighter numbers, musically, and definitely enjoyable thanks to its entertaining fusion of piano and guitar. “I Know What I’m Doin’” is a very different number, at least in terms of mood, than the aforementioned tunes and there’s a slightly unsettled feeling coming across despite its sleek instrumentation that makes it an album highlight. “Better Man” brings in some of the most boisterous guitar you’ll hear on birth, love, hate, death and it has a nearly bluesy bite that’s quite entertaining. “Honestly” and “Sleeping Alone” are the album’s entries in the piano ballad sweepstakes and they are particularly effective coming late in the album’s running order. Dantone comes across just as convincing here as he does on the rock songs. The album’s closer “Forever” suggests, based on title alone, a clichéd rock ballad, but the acoustic guitar work on this curtain closer rises far above formula and it makes for a poignant finish. 



Universal Dice – ‘birth, love, hate, death’ 

by Skope • February 5, 2018 

The fourth release from indie act Universal Dice is, unquestionably, their most ambitious effort yet. birth, love, hate, death harkens back to an increasingly distant time in our popular music history when composers, straining against the confines of the three minute single, aimed to marry one of our most democratic and accessible of all art forms with a higher artistry and aesthetic sensibility. Gerry Dantone’s songwriting on this self-labeled “rock opera” doesn’t follow a linear storyline to realize its conceptual conceits, but the cumulative effect of the album’s sixteen songs makes a definite impression on listeners and has an inevitable progression of character development and interaction common to the best releases of this type.  The album shows a level of cohesion and coherence extending far past the usual purview of the form and it makes for an invigorating, engaging listen from the first. 


After a nice, understated rave-up, “Welcome to the World” settles into a steady, uncluttered rock groove with staccato guitar lines and Dantone’s Jakob Dylan-esque dramatic rasp coloring the lyrics. There’s some nice harmony vocals coming in at key points and it gets birth, love, hate, death off to an appropriately energetic start without getting too carried away with itself. The gorgeous dream-like sway of “I Wish I Could Tell You This” carries a nicely modulated Dantone vocal along with it and tasteful lead guitar exquisitely chiming in. The lyrics are written with the same inner eye and ear for detail and economy – Dantone’s style as both a musician and lyricist is one never wasting a word or note. “The Prophet” is one of birth, love, hate, death’s punchiest numbers thanks to memorable drumming and an emphatic rush forward the song makes following another brief rave-up intro. Dantone’s songwriting obeys all the fundamentals and draws on long-standing traditions, but he clearly has a skill for pouring old wine into new bottles. 

There’s a lot of vocal harmonies critical to the success of “My Hands Are Tied”, but it never takes the track far from its rock roots as Dantone and his partners in this project pump out another superb guitar-bass-drum driven number. The album’s longest track “Take Me Home” starts off dramatically, but never so much so that it overwhelms listeners. Instead, there’s the same tastefulness marking its build that defines the album’s remaining material. It evolves at a nice pace and ends up making a tremendous impact justifying every second of its running time. It isn’t the first song on birth, love, hate. Death to feature piano playing, but the ivories bring an appealing melodic lift to the track “Danielle” that effectively alternates with a much rockier sound. Another long-ish track on the album, “I Know What I’m Doin’”, highlights Dantone’s talent for convincingly writing in character and has an ideal instrumental accompaniment. There’s a slight fatalistic chill to this tune that you’ll feel in every bone. The steady pulse of birth, love, hate, death’s “Man Enough” sets things up nicely for an equally assertive performance that Dantone really excels with. The finale “Forever” hasa Beatle-ish flair and couples a plaintive piano melody with some warm, well-recorded acoustic guitar and Dantone turns in one of his most affecting vocals. Universal Dice’s fourth release is definitely their best yet and shows Dantone’s songwriting creativity has no appreciable limit. 


Jason Hillenburg 



Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 

Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 


birth, love, hate, death from Universal Dice marks the band’s fourth studio release and definitely their highest reaching effort yet. Lead singer and chief songwriter Gerry Dantone has aspirations going far beyond your typical retro minded rock release. Dantone certainly draws from a recognizable array of influences to make this release fly, longtime rock fans will surely be comforted by his mastery of the style, but the sixteen songs on Universal Dice’s fourth album are definitely modern confections with vibrant and warm sound that doesn’t recall times of yore. There’s a great mix of songwriting and instrumental prowess making this release go and it reaches some truly impressive high points along the way. Gerry Dantone’s vocals are traditionally beautiful or musical, but he has an astonishingly engaging emotive sound that’s turned to excellent use on a number of cuts. birth, love, hate, death might initially seem overlong at sixteen songs, but it never really flags and keeps you listening throughout. 

It starts off with a pleasing amount of energy and urgency. “Welcome to the World” brings listeners right into Universal Dice’s imaginative world on the steady shoulders of breezy, confident drumming and well aimed guitars. There’s a much more emotive side brought out with the album’s first ballad styled number, “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, thanks to the lead guitar and a patient, slowly unfolding musical arrangement that nevertheless makes no added demands on listener’s patience. “Your Son” shows off another appealing side of the band’s musical personality with its mix of acoustic and electrified instruments in such a way that they make use of great dynamics and create significant “drama”. Dantone’s vocals are strong on every cut and he shows a penchant early on for varying his delivery as the song demands while still promoting himself with a recognizable style. He never feels like the focus, but he’s likewise never far from the heart of each song. 

That changes some on tunes like “The Prophet” where instrumental excellence is much more pronounced. The drumming on birth, love, hate, death is uniformly awesome, but “The Prophet” is one of those high points on the album where it really stands out from the pack. “Danielle” and the later “I Know What I’m Doin’” is a case study in contrast.  The former tune is an effervescent musical ride, relaxing yet containing some serious undercurrent, while “I Know What I’m Doin’” communicates low key menace in a way nothing else on birth, love, hate, death matches. “I’m No Good for You” is another especially hard hitting rock number, but Universal Dice leavens its effects some with acoustic guitar. The final two tracks “One Day at a Time” and “Forever” ends the album on an acoustic, salutatory note without ever slipping into hamminess and pretension. This is one of the more impressive, clearly thought out releases from 2017 and it’s difficult to imagine much in this new year vying for the same mantle in the same style. 


Daniel Boyer 



Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death 

Universal Dice – birth, love, hate, death 


Universal Dice have hit album number four with the release birth, love, hate, death and the sixteen song concept album, dubbed a rock opera by songwriter Gerry Dantone, recalls the glory days of bands like The Who while still charging forth with its own unique style and concerns. Dantone has recruited some of the best players available on the East Coast and in the New York area to help make his musical aspirations become reality and the sixteen songs they offer up with this release are deceptively simple and add up to quite an impressive whole. The album title hints at some weighty themes going into these tracks, but the songs do an excellent job of presenting them in an audience friendly manner. Dantone’s talent for condensing a wide-ranging story down into manageable songs that get under the skin and never overstay their welcome. 

“Welcome to the World” is the perfect first song for this album. Dantone knows how to build a rock song with a heart beat; even at its roughest moments, there’s never a sense that Dantone’s definition of great rock and roll involves mindless thrashing away. Melody is an important component in what makes these songs work as standalone pieces and both this song and the album’s second, a ballad entitled “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, are among the album’s most memorable in that regard. The latter tune is further punctuated by some very emotional lead guitar fills. “My Hands Are Tied” is one of the album’s best early examples of how well Universal Dice uses acoustic textures in a predominantly rock setting and it’s vocally superb as well. The longest song on birth, love, hate, death “Take Me Home” justifies its length thanks to some palpable atmospherics that stand apart from the remainder of the release. “Danielle” and “I Love It When They Hate It” serve up some alt rock breeziness with the first track and some strong classic rock echoes with the latter track that will spin listener’s heads a little, but they never sound like they come from completely different artists. There’s an inner coherence to this album that makes everything hold together from the first through the last. 

“I Know What I’m Doin’” is the classic lament of someone ready to crash and burn and both Dantone’s vocal, lyrics, and the accompanying instrumentation really make it come alive. There’s definitely a certain amount of darkness and blues surrounding this tune that fits in with the rest of the release. “Honestly” and “Sleeping Alone” are the album’s two piano ballads, though there’s other tracks elevated by the use of piano, and Dantone gives particularly affecting vocal performances on those songs. The final rock gem on birth, love, hate, death is the churning “I’m No Good for You” and it will convince any doubters remaining that this is an album with moments of rare power and drama capturing listener’s attention. This is far from a one man show, but it’s pretty bracing to hear Gerry Dantone’s fearlessness as a songwriter and conceptualist in full flight like it is with this opus. 


 Charles Hatton 




How would you classify your music? 

Gerry Dantone answering all questions:  Hopefully we’re classified as “good” music, but if you want a category, we are an indie classic rock band in the style of the Beatles, the Who, from the 60s to, more recently, bands like Green Day and the Killers and plenty of great bands in between. 

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences? 

Influences are not going to be our contemporaries – our contemporaries were influenced by the same musicians that we were influenced by. If we had to pick 5 it would be The Beatles, the Who, Pink Floyd, Squeeze, Paul Simon. These are the giants on whose shoulders we stand.  Our contemporaries would be bands like Green Day, Muse and the Killers and they might name similar bands as their influences. 

What do you want fans to take from your music? 

I do have a goal that I am trying to accomplish with music (as we all should have in life generally) – to make things better. I hope my music is edifying – that you can learn something from it or it will make you think more deeply about something important in life.  On our 4 CDs we have dealt with the big topics, life and death, meaning and purpose – really!  How are we to live?  What is love?  These are the underlying topics that we all should care about. 

Our first CD (My Name Is Thomas…) dealt with faith and reason; the second album (mostly True Stories) was about religion and philosophy; the third album (Out of Many, One) was about political and social issues; and the current album (birth, love, hate, death) is a love story rock opera from birth to death of two people.  I want my music to mean something and matter.  I do not want to waste my time on just making “product.” 

How’s the music scene in your locale? 

On Long Island, NY, cover bands and tribute bands do very well. Original music, not so good.  Original music is tougher than ever to market because there is almost no money to be made with digital sales/royalties and there is a glut of music waiting to be heard because it has become so easy to record even in your own home on an IPad.  At this point you need to tour, tour and tour some more to get noticed and to make a living.  You have to have no other responsibilities so you can go on the road and become a known entity. 

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live? 

It is hard to say which concert has been the best; McCartney, the Who, Muse, the Killers, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen and many others I’ve seen have knocked it out of the park. There are just too many to name!  I practically cried when Procul Harem played “Salty Dog” in concert. It was unbelievable.  I definitely favor bands that sound really good in concert as opposed to concerts that are more like a party or event.  I’m into the music. 

What I’ve enjoyed most about playing live is having people hear the tunes for the first time and be impressed.  I also love the way it sounds when we’ve played the songs with a good sound system and played them well. 

Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

I think “Your Son” and “Honestly” approach what I wish I could do on every tune.  I sang both well and in both I wrote songs that have not been written before – they’re pretty original and avoid cliché if you look at them closely.  They are both full of self-doubt, uncertainty and are melancholy even though they sound melodic and classic.  “Honestly” is a love song where the singer says he doesn’t know what love is.  That is an honest statement. 

How have you evolved as an artist over the last year? 

I really don’t know. Evolution is a slow process so sometimes you cannot perceive the actual changes.  I think I have a little more confidence in my guitar playing after seeing what I was able to do on the last CD. 

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be? 

Paul McCartney seems like a good guy to meet, as is Bruce Springsteen or Lady GaGa.  There are plenty of great musicians that seem like really good people.  That’s the kind of person I’d like to meet. 

What’s next for you? 

If I could do one thing that would be to stage the rock opera, “birth, love, hate, death” in a live setting with actors and actresses in a playhouse with the band and have it taped with really good sound!  Otherwise, I am already working on another album of songs! 

Read more at 



Universal Dice is a band that has just released a new rock opera called Birth, Love, Hate, Death. The songs, written and produced by Gerry Dantone, are no doubt some of the best indie classic rock music I have heard to this day. The sound is well, classic. The band’s sound is full, the musicians are amazing and the songs are no doubt radio quality. The band initially reminded me of classic bands such as Kansas, Tom Petty and Yes. 

The band’s studio production talents are comparable to the top stars of today. Gerry Dantone’s voice is almost perfect in every song. Although the band members seem to fluctuate here and there, Gerry is the main writing force along with his songwriting partner Sam Cimino. 

The band’s website states that their new album is…” a true labor of love – a rock opera/love story that is not idealized or glamorized but is instead full of self-doubt, mistakes, missed opportunities, regret, and sacrifice.” Not many acts these days are doing rock operas. I am interested! 

The album is packed full with 16 tunes. I’ve listened to the entire album a few times now and I have yet to find a song I can’t get into. As you know, I don’t hold back on constructive criticism. I could be super picky and find something to write about with this band, but truly all I can really say is that I love it. 

I listen to tons of music. Universal Dice stands at the top of my critical rotation. The song “Welcome To The World” just screams summertime hit. The main hook that bears the title is so catchy I find myself singing along with the music. This song would fit in perfectly with a Top 40 Classic mixtape. You know, spice some old favorites up a bit with some new sounds! 

“I Wish I Could Tell You This” takes on more of a Pink Floyd shade. Bands that can show dynamics are able to play so many more songs authentically. “Your Son” is another prime example of amazing songwriting that ventures over to more of a Soundgarden/Beatlesque sound. This band is so versatile! I particularly enjoy the part in the song where he sings “Yoooouuuur Son” – it’s very moving. 

After looking into the band a little more I realized that they have so much more music available dating back to 1998! That’s great to hear, literally! As I stated earlier, they describe this latest project as a rock opera. I was a little leery at first thinking that a rock opera could involve 20-minute songs with high screeching vocals and ’80s guitar solos. Not so with Universal Dice. As I progressed thru the tracks on the album, the sounds just become more defined. 

“Take Me Home” is also at the top of my like list. The band does a great job at building the song from the very beginning. I haven’t mentioned the keyboards yet and that’s my mistake. The keys come thru tastefully every time they are used. “Danielle” is a perfect example. Piano drives the first sections of the song. The piano simply adds so much to the tune and the chord voicings do so without intruding. Again, I am very impressed with the production quality of this album. 

I could go on and on but I suggest you check out the music of Universal Dice yourself. I encourage you to get in touch with them via social media and tell them you heard them here first! As always thank you for reading and continued support of indie music! 



Ear to the Ground 

Thursday, December 7, 2017 

Okay - on we  go to the shuffle and perhaps a few more  Earies... 

"My Hands Are Tied" by UniversalDice 

EARIE ALERT: the "And I Don't Even Like Rock Operas" award goes to UniversalDice - featuring Gerry Dantone. When I got the e-mail about Birth Love Hate Death - and read the words "Classic Rock" and "Rock Opera", I have admit - I was a bit put off, but I am super glad I gave it a listen.  If those words put you off, I recommend giving it a listen.  If those words do not put you off, then what are you waiting for? 



The Ear to the Ground blog has kindly featured UniversalDice once again on their blog and playlist. Many thanks! Here's what they wrote: 

"Your Son" by UniversalDice 

Next, we have a track from the rock opera, Birth, Love, Hate, Death - by this contemporary classic rock band from Long Island, New York. Really powerful song." 



NeuFutur Magazine 

Travel, Craft Beer, Fitness, and Parenting 

UniversalDice – birth, love, hate, death 

Welcome to the World is the first track on UniversalDice’s new album birth, love, hate, death, providing fans with a straightforward rock style that builds off of performers like R.E.M., The Cars, and The Minutemen. The eclectic sound of this introductory effort showcases a trend that will continue throughout the entirety of the album. A lush production allows each element – the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals – equal time to shine. I Wish I Could Tell You This has the soulful guitar work of Eric Clapton or Mott The Hoople. A sedate and carefully laid down set of vocals ensure that fans will be eagerly devouring each and every word.  The taut instrumentation will stand up to repeat plays, not only on this effort but on songs like My Hands Are Tied. 

My Hands Are Tied is the diametric opposite of the aforementioned cut. A high tempo and punchy instrumentation ramps up birth, love, hate, death’s energy. The vocals on this single pull double duty in that they add to the song’s harmony while telling a story. I Love It When They Hate It has a funkier, more bluesy sound to it (imagine The Rolling Stones meeting The Who); the vocals build off a Billy Bragg and Elvis Costello sound here. I’m No Good For You has an infectious dynamic crafted between the vocals and the instrumentation. Quite a few listens will be needed to hear every twist and turn that has been included within.  One Day At A Time, the penultimate effort on birth, love, hate, death will impress with a touching and emotionally effecting sound. The hopeful sound of the track colors the final statements on this CD, providing fans with a bit of happiness as the album begins to spin to a close. 

Top Tracks: Welcome to the World, I Wish I Could Tell You This 

Rating: 8.4/10 



Ear to the Ground: A Music Blog 

November 3 at 1:46pm · 


Did someone say Friday? 

I went to see Nashville Rep's production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson last night.  Really good!  Andrew Jackson was cast as a kind of emo rock star. The show was funny and engaging, and the music was great.  Very irreverent and kind of raunchy at times. Perfect.  It was also a great satire of populism and how it doesn't always work out like it seems like it might. 

Well, it is Friday.  Another rainy, gloomy day in Nashville. It's been an odd week for me. Not sure why. I took Monday off. Haven't felt 100% most of the week.  Feeling better today.  But, it's Friday! And that means we get to delve into the Featured Friday shuffle - more songs from the "new music" playlist. 

"Cocaine Cowboys" by Sally Jaye (with Megan Palmer and Lauren Farrah in the video) 

"Heaven" by Black Needle Noise feat. Jennie Vee 

"Enough for Me" by Ali Handal 

"I'm No Good for You" by UniversalDice featuring Gerry Dantone 

"Waltzing Around with my Shadow" by Jared Tyler 

"Under Her Spell" by Mark Robinson Band 

"Heart with Wings" by Fendrick & Peck 

"Elysian Fields" by Maple & Rye 


"Our Time is Now" by Post Death Soundtrack 



Ear to the Ground 

Friday, October 20, 2017 

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Turned 24 Today Mix 

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook! 

Several years ago, someone pointed out that I would often make a very subtle sarcastic comment or joke, and then ruin the effect by saying "Just kidding". This guy even started calling me "Just kidding Joe".  I think he was right. My desire was to make sure I was understood. Like, if people thought I was being serious they might think I was an idiot or mean or whatever. But, it's not my job to explain myself to everyone and it is not my business what they think about me. 

I have tried since then to catch myself when I want to add a "just kidding" - although full disclosure: emojis have kind of given me a cheat on this  ;-) And I'm working on that now, too.  Twice in the last two days I have posted something on social media that was facetious without a "tell" that I was kidding. The first case, if anyone took me as serious, they would think I was kind of stupid and maybe a little self-important. The second case, could potentially lead to a political reaction of some sort... 

I don't know. 5 1/2 years in and I'm still working on this life thing, and I'm kind of okay with that for today.... 

Let's jump headlong into some featured music for a lovely Friday in Nashville... 

"Man Enough" by UniversalDice 

Sometimes music sneaks up on you... when I received the query from UniversalDice and read the words Rock Opera and Classic Rock, I thought it might not be my cup of tea, but the concept intrigued me, and I gave it a listen.  I am really glad I did. Every time, I listen I like it more and more. 



Ear to the Ground 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Friday Toast in a German Kitchen Mix 

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook! 

I've said this before... but it comes back time and again.... the reason E2TG has endured for almost six and a half years is because I post just about every day, and I post even when I really don't feel much like posting.  I think it is my nation to constantly think about the what, why, and hows of whatever it is I am doing.  E2TG has definitely evolved over the years - although the basic premise is still the same. "Hey I heard some cool tunes on my way to work, let me tell you about them." 

I do think about what I can do to reach more people - not for my ego (okay - a little for my ego) but mostly to help spread the word about some of the lesser known music that I love. Over the years, I have seen people I wrote about begin to reach a larger audience and get more wide-spread recognition. When that happens, I am proud - not that I feel in any responsible for the success. I have always viewed the artists and bands I write about as a "family" of sorts. These are my people, and over the years there have been triumphs and stumbles, celebrations and mourning. Things have also grown which means my "family" is so large that I lose touch with people sometimes, but I always love hearing about what is up - even if it's not music related. I see people I have written about excelling in all areas of life, and I, too, people struggling. Just as I have excelled and struggled at times. 

I am generally a pretty upbeat guy, but I do get down sometimes too.... and I have bouts of self-pity sometimes. 

My point is that I love what I do and I really have no desire to stop. It heartens me when people appreciate what I do and lets me know. It seems kind of petty to expect that, and I try to avoid expectations, but it is appreciated when it happens. And, E2TG has taken me places I could not even have imagined. So, even on days when I don't feel it as much as I would like, I keep on... and man oh man, the cool music I get to listen to really helps a ton! 

It's Tuesday - let's see what is "trending" 

"Forever" by UniversalDice 

Next up, another track from Birth Love Hate Death - the rock opera and fourth album by this band lead by Gerry Dantone. They are from Long Island, NY. They play modern classic rock driven by lyrics that defy the conventions of their chosen genre. Really interesting stuff. 



I'm running short on time... It's Tuesday where we take a look at what's "trending" on E2TG.   By the way, my "New Music" playlist just topped 500 tracks. Which means I have a ton of new and newish music yet to be featured here....  it's a great problem to have - especially since I only add music I dig. 

"Danielle" by UniversalDice 

And we close things out with another track from the rock opera “Birth Love Hate Death” by this Long Island that plays their take on "classic rock" music. 



Other than that, it is Friday - and this is my last post before Americana Fest madness gets underway next week... sort of... I guess Monday and Tuesday's posts will technically be before AMA Fest, but Monday night, I'm going to see Homemade Sin at The Family Wash.  This is Homemade Sin without Dan Baird who is recovering from an illness. Warner Hodges and Joe Blanton (two folks who I have been fans off for over 30 years) will be helping to hold down the fort. Looking forward to seeing lots of friends that night. 

Since it is Friday, E2TG brings you Featured Friday - songs from my "New Music" playlist... let's shuffle... 

"The Prophet" by UniversalDice 

Birth Love Hate Death is an album and rock opera from this band from Long Island. They define their genre as "classic rock" which (to be honest) can be a hit or miss proposition when it comes to new music, but in their case it seems to be much more hit than miss.  It is original music that is a good reminder that the best of "classic rock" is classic for a reason.   This track really made me think about The Kinks and I dig The Kinks. 



Okay - so Wednesday... we shuffle up all the songs on my phone,  and things tend to get "Wild".  For some reason, I always look forward to Wednesdays.  I think it is the unpredictable nature of these shuffles:  new music alongside older songs, friends alongside long-time favorites, songs I didn't even know were on my phone, and revisiting albums that had been featured some time back. 

Let's go ahead and jump to it! 

"Empty Nesters" by Toro Y Moi 

"Empty Nesters" was the first single from the fourth studio album by chillwave pioneer - Toro Y Moi.  The recording I heard was from World Cafe and part of that massive download I got a couple of years back. I have no idea how many songs I have left on my phone from those 100 (I think) songs, but I love when they show up. 

"Sunlight" by John Doe 

John Doe of X released his first solo album Meet John Doe in 1990.  This is from his most recent (The Westerner) which came out last year. It's one of my favorites in a long line of great songs he has written and/or recorded. 

"Better Man" by UniversalDice 

 Some new music - this is from the album birth love hate death by this Long Island band lead by Gerry Dantone.  The album is billed as a rock opera. The band plays contemporary classic rock. 



Today, we are speaking with UniversalDice. Can you give us a little background information about yourself? How did you get into music? 

I’ve played music since I was 5 years old; in elementary school, my family was offered a choice of instruments for my musical education – accordion or guitar.  Of course, they chose that I learn the accordion.  I always joke to myself that if they had chosen guitar for me, I’d be Pete Townshend today. 

Accordion did not turn out to be the answer for me but in a few years, I was in the school orchestra playing 1st violin.  I was not the best violinist in the school but I was OK.  At some point, I suffered 3 broken arms and that was it for regularly playing violin.   That was probably it for being a virtuoso string instrument player as well.  I broke my left arm one more time as an adult for good measure. 

In late high school and early college years I started fooling around with an old acoustic guitar I found in my parent’s house and eventually bought a really cheap Univox guitar while in college with money I won playing pinochle.  Almost immediately it was obvious I wanted to write songs even before I knew how to play.  The rest is history, such as it is. 

You have just released a rock album, birth, love, hate, death; what was the writing/creative and recording process for the album like? 

The process begins with ideas; I had written some songs over the years that suggested some characters, a young man and a young woman who interacted in an interesting way.  The idea was to grow these couple of songs into a rock opera and tell a story about love; in this case from birth to death and all the love and hate in between, hence “birth, love, hate, death.”  It was going to be a tragedy because it’s more compelling and more real, in my opinion.   After writing more songs, it became apparent what gaps existed in the story; when that happens you then become motivated to fill the gaps and complete the story.  Telling a story definitely (for me) makes writing songs easier.  Having a story to tell brings focus to the writing process. 

We’ve recorded all of the UniversalDice albums ourselves.  The first two CDs, bassist Sam Cimino and I shared the writing, recording and production duties with help from keyboardist Tom Beckner.  I’ve handled the production of the last two CDS myself with help from lead guiatarist Bob Barcus on many songs and on “blhd” from Vin Crisci on 4 tunes.  The first two CDs were analog, the 3rd was both analog and digital, and “birth, love, hate, death” entirely digital.  We did it all from recording, mixing and mastering.  Bob and I usually handle the artwork, with Bob handling the more technical aspects. Sam played bass on much of the first 3 CDs, and Eddie Canova has handled it since then.  On “blhd” both Vin Crisci and Walt Sargent handled the keys.  Thank goodness for digital; you can do so much more without breaking the bank. 

The album art is fascinating; what significance does the hand/design hold for you?  How does birth, love, hate, death differ from your previous music? What sort of things are a hold-over from earlier recordings? 

The hand imprint of the cover represents “birth.”  It’s the imprint of an infant.  It seemed to be a good way to start the experience of the rock opera, “birth, love, hate, death.”  It happens to be my daughter’s imprint. 

This album is different because it’s about love, and pretty much only love.  Previous albums dealt with faith, reason, religion, social issues, war, peace, etc. with some loves songs scattered about incidentally.  This is about love. 

What will always be the same in UniversalDice albums is humanism; the theme of caring about what happens to others will always be the philosophical underpinning.  This may seem typical, but it really isn’t.  These songs are NOT obeying a god, a moral code, scripture, social norms or other commonly held beliefs; they are about caring about others, what happens to others and trying to contribute somehow to a better world.  In this album, the point is that love is NOT something you merely feel; love is a pattern of behavior of helping the ones you love. 

How supportive is the Long Island/NYC music scene in furthering your career (e.g. radio stations, magazine, venues)? 

One local magazine, Good Times Magazine, has always been nice to us but generally it is most difficult to get something going in the local music scene with original music.  People need to know your songs before they come to see you and additionally our material is not well suited for playing the bars and clubs.  It may rock but there’s a little too much going on.  Part of what we do is provoke thought – that’s difficult in a club setting. 

I’ve played clubs – CBGBs to Malibu Beach Club to Great Gilversleeves to My Father’s Place in the NY metro area.  It’s just not our optimal setting. 

 What does your recording set up look like (what do you use to record, what are your favorite tools)? 

I use a PC running SONAR for recording and use SoundForge to master.  I have all kinds of effects from Waves and other companies.  I use the POD and SansAmp for guitar sound and Bob uses a miked boutique amp for his sounds.  We used a SansAmp for bass with Eddie to go direct.  I know Vinny uses a Korg for his keyboards and I have other various modules for keys with Walter.  I also use a Seck mixer for routing my set up and the whole thing occupies about 30 or 40 square feet in my den.  I own only 2 electric guitars and one acoustic – I am not a collector. 

Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music? Is there a dream lineup of performers that you would like to perform with if given the chance? 

The Beatles, the Who, Pink Floyd, Cream, Simon & Garfunkel and other bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s form the basis of my musical education.  I love bands like Muse, the Killers, Green Day and Radiohead from more recent times.  I would love to play with the Who, but I am not worthy. 

Which sort of social media website have you had the best successes with? What about these online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting and performances that musicians utilize? 

Facebook seems to be the best format for me to communicate with potential fans.  Twitter’s 140 characters would be totally inadequate.  I am not visually oriented so other photo/video based social media is not my strong point. 

What should listeners expect from your music in the future? How can interested NeuFutur readers locate samples of your music? 

We have a 5th album in our future – it will be about “family.”  It will rock. 

Our music is everywhere it can be, iTunes, Amazon. Spotify, CDBaby and 20 or more other outlets.  Our first 3 albums may be attributed to “”, which are “My Name is Thomas…”, also a rock opera, “mostly True Stories” and “Out of Many, One.”   Our latest CD, “birth, love, hate, death” will be listed under “UniversalDice.”  You can get physical CDs via CDBaby and digital everywhere.  The best starting point is our web site; . 

What does the rest of 2017 hold for your music and tour date wise? 

Since our rock opera is best enjoyed as a rock opera, we are working with a local theater/performance art school to get it staged and take it on the road to appropriate venues as a real production.  To get that done would be a dream come true. 

Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life and the universe for our readers? 

Our new CD begins: 

I’m sure you want to know where did we all come from 

You want to know what comes after this? 

The secret’s in the way you live, not in kingdom come 

May you live to taste your love’s sweet kiss 

My sweet darling, my sweet child 

The road is winding and the weather’s wild 

And it ends: 

Love is the warm embrace 

Love is the saving grace 

We need to love each other… 

Now truth is a mystery and love is the clue 



Home    WPKN’s Favorites Of The Week     WPKN’s Favorite Tracks of the Week – 08/06/17 


Posted by Rod Richardson on August 6, 2017 

Benjamin Gibbard: What You Do To Me – Bandwagonesque (Atlantic, 2017) 
Universal Dice: Welcome to the World – Birth, Love, Hate, Death (Infidels, 2017) 
Boris Garcia: Waters Blue – Around Some Corner (Porchwerk, 2017) 
The Dream Syndicate: Glide – How Did I Find Myself Here? (Anti-, 2017) 



KAFM 88.1 

Grand Junction Community Radio, Colorado 

The Divided Sky (Variety) 

With Ghost 

Subbing for Mark 

TUE AUG 1ST 2017 9.00AM–12.00PM 


UniversalDice “I Know What I'm Doin'”  from Birth, Love, Hate, Death (Infidels Records 2017) N 



Ear to the Ground 

Friday, July 28, 2017 

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Leave it on the Shelf Mix 

Be sure to "Like" Ear to the Ground on Facebook! 

Tentatively emerging from a blue funk I've been in, and a wonderful night of live music definitely helped out with that... 

Whew!  And it is now Friday and the heat has at least temporarily broken... and we have a fine playlist of Featured Friday songs...  Now! 

 "I Love It When They Hate It" by UniversalDice 

UniversalDice is a Long Island, NY band lead by songwriter Gerry Dantone.  This is a track from their most recent album (and rock opera) called birth love hate death.  They play an original style of classic rock music.  This is our first listen, and I am digging it so far. 

More airplay, this time for "One Day at a Time": 



UniversalDice, an ambitious, veteran group with a progressive rock sound, recently released their fourth studio album on Infidels Records - entitled "birth, love, hate, death" - which, as reported by the band ranks as their second rock opera.  The group is composed of Gerry Dantone (vocals), Bob Barcus (guitars), Eddie Canova (bass), and newest members Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici (keyboards). 

For the whole article go to and go to page 22. 



Battles Zone Playlist 

July 3, 2017, 5:12AM, UniversalDice, Sleeping Alone 




Today's Aberration Tomorrow's Fashion 

Jeffrey & Johnny Carlos 

New music tonight from Chris Abrahams, Universal Dice, Temples, Tiny Vipers, Aaron Farinelli, and more on this edition of Today's Aberration Tomorrow's Fashion.  Follow the show on Facebook. 




MP3 Stream 320kbps, broadband 



CDs added July 2017: -

07-07-17     John Trudell     AKA Grafitti Man (Inside Recordings)... 

07-07-17     Glen Campbell     Adios (Universal Music Enterprises) 

07-07-17     Jim Lauderdale     London Southern (Sky Crunch Records) 

07-07-17     UniversalDice     birth, love, hate, death (Infidels Records)... 




New Music Monday on A.V.A. Live Radio featuring Jacqueline Jax 

Featuring our Top trending independent music artists just released and topping the fan charts with their latest single. This week’s most popular songs across all genres hosted by Jacqueline Jax. Discover new music and experience a wide variety from all genres each week. Today you’ll hear songs featured from the mixed genres. This is excellent songwriting and songs we believe you will love to discover. 

UniversalDice – Out of Many, One 

Genre : Indie Classic Rock / Rock Opera 

Infidels Records artists UniversalDice is a most unique band; just beneath the surface of their accessible, melodic and beautifully played and arranged modern/classic rock sound lay an ambitious and rich lyrical content that challenges pop music orthodoxy. There are few band that not only make you think, but can take you to another place musically while they force you to re-think what was once taken for granted.  The songs, written and produced by Gerry Dantone, are always relevant and usually intensely emotion and often unique in the rock music arena. 



The Appetizer Radio Show 

Savoring The Flavors Of Great Albums From Indie & Mainstream Musicians 

The Appetizer Radio Show 

Serving up your connection to new and emerging artists along with established legends each week.  Connect with us using these platforms to discover fresh flavors of music from the known as well as the unknown. 

Degrees of Love Playlist & Streaming Player 

Listen to the show: 

June 30, 2017 D Grant Smith 

Music Playlist 

Title Artist Album Label Year Length 

Heart Place (Instrumental) Lindsay Katt Picking Out Boxes. Lindsay Katt 2008 01:45  ... 

One Day At A Time UniversalDice Birth, Love, Hate, Death. Infidels Records 2016 02:52 

Honestly UniversalDice Birth, Love, Hate, Death. Infidels Records 2016 04:56... 


BY SARAH ON JUNE 25, 2017 

The official playlist blog for your Indie and Alternative fix in a world of metal on 89.5 FM WSOU. 


06.25.2017 Playlist 

Four Cypresses – Grizzly Bear * 


Open Window – Free Throw * 

My Hands Are Tied – UniversalDice * 

Dusty Eyes – Bedouine * 

Man of War – Radiohead * 

Either Way – Sorority Noise * 

Song Name - Band Name (* designates new music) 

Posted by The Campuz Buzz Team at 11:08 PM 

KDVS 90.3FM 


1000 Points of Fright 

Pirate of the High Frequenseas 

Calamity Janie subs for Pirate!  Tune in as the band Male Gaze will be joining me in studio for an acoustic performance, a Q&A session, and they will share some tracks from their new album, "Miss Taken".  Also, they will be playing at the Red Museum (212 15th St) in Sacramento tomorrow (6/17). 



UniversalDice "I Wish I Could Tell You This"   NEW rock mellow almost country tinge. 



by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio 

Gerry Dantone 
Bob Barcus 
Ed Canova 
Walt Sargent 
Vin Crici 

Interviewing: Gerry Dantone 

Song name: Honestly 
Music Genre/ category : Classic Rock (this song is part of a 16 song rock opera, “birth, love, hate, death”) 

In this song (as part of the rock opera), ‘Danielle” asks the age-old question, “Honestly, Do you really love me?”. As is typical for UniversalDice, the answer is not simple or cliche. He’s NOT sure, and he hopes he is doing the right thing. In the final stanza she gets her answer from “the son”: 

New album… 
This is much more realistic and down to earth collection of songs about love and relationships than you would typically find. There is no glamour, no romanticizing of this relationship, few illusions. It is not “edgy,” “trendy” or it is not what you expected to hear in a classic rock setting. I wanted to write a story and songs that more people could relate to that feature articulate but imperfect people. I also wanted to write something that would always sound good and mean something, not just in the near future, but for years to come. There is a lot of care taken on the arrangement s and we wanted to make sure there was plenty of dynamics and “drama” within the songs. 

The band is on Long Island, New York… 
and although there is a music scene here, it has become increasingly more difficult to promote original music. Since it has become much easier and affordable to record your tunes, there is a massive amount of new music for the consumer to sift through, of wildly varying quality. It is difficult to break through the noise. 

Music business.. 
I was an employee of MTV Networks in the past and I have a bit of experience in the field so I have seen this business from a couple of angles. As a performer, talent is simply not enough. Much more important is commitment and the ability to work at self-promotion full-time. If you have any responsibilities, such as a children, a mortgage, etc., the music business may not be ideal when it comes to making a living and this may prevent some deserving artists from achieving recognition. It is almost impossible nowadays to be successful by just releasing great music. Performing and promotion are almost more important than the art of music. 

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with… 
I did not expect this question and what came to mind immediately were only 2 people; Barack Obama and Paul McCartney. 

Website and social media links: : 



Also just out: "birth, love, hate, death," a rock opera on Infidels Records. This new effort, available virtually everywhere music is sold (Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby, etc.) is an effort helmed by singer/songwriter and activist Gerry Dantone, and is a story about "love from birth to death of a tragic young couple."  The album takes on large themes, yet remains quite accessible and melodic... 





(Click on the above website link for the whole review.) 

May 2, 2017 

By Bryon William 

UniversalDice is a band who delivers classic-rock-operas with huge musical landscapes, in-depth story-lines/characters and lyrical explorations of life's complexities, mysteries and meaning...  If you close your eyes and listen, you will be transported into ta colorful, world as if you are reading a novel. Inspired by artists such as the Who and the Beatles, UniversalDice's new self recorded and produced 16-track album 'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' is a great way to introduce yourself to the band's captivating, page-turning performance... 

Each song on the album is strung together in a cinematic fashion sung from different perspectives representing the "characters" viewpoint.  For example, track three "Your Son" depicts a toxic relationship between a mother and a son, told from the son's perspective.  Kicking off the song is a guitar progression with slight distortion, accompanied by a rocking drum beat and synth keys droning in the background. The vocals enter to suit the mood, mellow with a haunting timbre. When combined with the instrumentation, UniversalDice  sets a stormy mood that captivates you right from the start. “Your Son” is a very moving song about childhood abuse showing that UniversalDice doesn't shy away from serious and difficult topics... 

'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' is an extremely highly developed musical concept album that gives listeners substantial musical content while delivering insight on the struggles of love and growing into yourself. UniversalDice has found their niche with an ability to write songs that build insightful stories with memorable melodies and hooks that would allow each song to stand alone and shine, but when pieced together form a grand work of art. Other albums by UniversalDice touch on themes like faith, meaning and purpose, politics and social issues. Their music, along with more information on this prolific band, can be found on their website. 



(Click on the website link for the full review.) 

Provocative multilayered rock opera UniversalDice – “BIRTH, LOVE, HATE, DEATH”:  Right up front, I want to say that I listen to (probably more than) a hundred or so “rock bands” a year who want a featured slot… it goes without saying that most of them never make it (except in their own minds, mayhaps).  Gerry Dantone leads this high-energy rockin’ group (check the CD Baby page for the complete player list; it’s far too long to paste here) in a most excellent rock opera set that, in places, even surpasses the old-school bands their songs are modeled after.  Please note that I said “modeled after”, too – they are their OWN band, not “wannabees”… 

This is an astounding album that’s full of surprises, both lyrically and musically; I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with a (perfect) “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00… that means, of course, this gets my “PICK” for “best rock-opera”!  Keep your ears on this band, they will RISE!  Get more information on the UniversalDice website (and tell them you read about them here, of course)! 



Island Songwriters Showcase This is an epic, folks. What makes it 'epic' is not its length, but its depth. UniversalDice tackles more big questions in 45 minutes than some artists tackle in an entire career. It's not heady music, though. It's 'rock' in the classic rock vein with a big sound and melodies that can stalk you for days. 

I am tempted to say this is his best work yet, but I really like ALL of his previous recordings. Gerry's work is consistently excellent. 

Bravo, Gerry, on an ambitious work - nailed. 

Note: Walt played keyboards on this CD 




with music by UNIVERSALDICE; "Who You know" written by Sam Cimino 

Uploaded by Doris Rowe 

Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:38 AM EST 
#doris rowe 
#in your head 



An Evening of Humanism in Music 

Scenes from the 1st NJHN Music Contest 

Humanists love a good song as much as anyone else. But how much music do you hear performed in concert that carries lyrics expressing the ideas and values that inspire a Humanist? On June 16th, 2001, we had that opportunity. 

In an effort to enlarge the body of Humanist music, the New Jersey Humanist Network sponsored its first Humanist Music Contest. We were delighted with the high production quality, variety of musical styles, and contemporary appeal of the songs that were entered into the contest. Selecting a winner was difficult, and we wished we could have given out more prizes. 

The winning song was "Love is the Only Priest" by Gerry Dantone, which is an upbeat rock-and-roll tune that makes you want to dance and sing along with lyrics proclaiming that happiness is the only heaven and reason is the only light we need. 

Second prize went to Greg James for the song "For the Love of Humanity", a haunting song full of complex rhythms that tells us that we must live our love in the here and now. 

Honorable mentions went to Ned Davis and Pop Canon for the jazzy and humorous "Ballyhoo" and to Ed Poll for the beautiful ballad "The Human Heart". 

The New Jersey Humanist Network wishes to thank all the contest entrants, and we hope that their music will greatly help to spread the message of Humanism, especially to young people. 



CD Review 


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 


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. 



NOVEMBER 2, 2002 


Atheists and humanists gathered on the National Mall to rally for the rights and opinions of non-religious Americans. The organizers titled the event “The Godless Americans March on Washington.” 

GERRY DANTONE of UniversalDice is introduced by Ellen Johnson at about the 4:05:00 mark on the video and he sings "Magic Butt" and "Love is the Only Priest"  from the CD "My Name Is Thomas..." 

Gerry Dantone singing "Magic Butt" 

The whole rally on C-SPAN: 

Gerry Dantone: