Reviews & Press

“Once Upon a Time” by Universal Dice
Stacey Winter
May 7,2024
I hope that Universal Dice’s new album release Misfit Memoirs reaches the largest possible audience. The first two singles from the release, “Curse” and the latest song, “Once Upon a Time”, offer evidence that the Gerry Dantone-led project has reached a new peak. “Once Upon a Time” continues developing the band’s songwriting wont for story-focused art that lacks pretentiousness or self-indulgence. The band’s work thus far is a reassuring reminder that ambitious rock works are still out there and deserve maximum exposure. His ability to realize such ambitions without ever descending into unnecessary pomp sets the band’s work even further away from the status quo.

It isn’t an easy balance to maintain. Rock music, reaching back decades, is rife with examples of ham-fisted marriages between ambition and accessibility. Songwriters guilty of overreach have drug potentially great works down with overwrought tendencies. Gerry Dantone’s songwriting avoids such pitfalls. “Once Upon a Time” has an intimate climate. It gives individual listeners the impression that Universal Dice is performing for them alone. The development of the songwriting reinforces this.

Dantone wisely employs a first-person point of view for the lyrics. It gives “Once Upon a Time” storytelling attributes that prod listeners to hang with every word. He sketches out the details with broad strokes focused on significant details rather than weighing down the writing with needless adornments. It is impossible to say for sure without knowing more, but the single comes across as if the words and music came together. I think Dantone began the process with a clear idea of what he wanted the song to say.

It is a certainty that makes the listening experience such a pleasure. There’s surefooted confidence present in each second of this four-minute-long track. However, it isn’t ever strident, and the mid-tempo unfolding of the performance has a calm and considered demeanor. This prevailing mood drew me deeper into its storytelling web. It inspired faith in Dantone’s artistry from the start, and he never gave me a reason to reconsider.

The lyrical brevity underlines the aforementioned certainty. Dantone doesn’t waste a single word in the writing of this track, and his word choices do not disappoint. “Once Upon a Time” pulls no punches. It fleshes out an unforgiving world that Dantone’s sensitive vocal tempers with its thoughtfulness. We experience the emotions present in the song’s words rather than consuming them on a strictly intellectual level.

One of the hallmarks of Universal Dice’s work is the striking balance it maintains between the mental and physical. Dantone and his bandmates have made a name for themselves serving up stimulating musical landscapes capable of moving or entertaining their audience. The lyrical content and concepts are icing on an especially delectable cake. Intelligence and depth distinguish each new outing, and “Once Upon a Time” is no exception. It’s more evidence, if needed, that Universal Dice’s new album Misfit Memoirs will likely rank as their finest collection. We’re lucky to have such meaningful music in times like this, and I hope there’s more to come.

Music Existence
Single Review: “Once Upon a Time” Gerry Dantone’s Universal Dice 
Julie Blankenship
May 7, 2024
The latest single from Universal Dice, “Once Upon a Time”, hails from the band’s forthcoming effort Misfit Memoirs. It follows up the album’s initial single “Curse” with another fully realized effort built with Gerry Dantone’s customary storytelling flair. He doesn’t belabor his narrative. Instead, Dantone structures the story around dialogue rather than grounding it in minute details that might otherwise drag the song down with needless weight. Dantone plays each of the instruments on this recording save a few added drum fills from bandmate Vin Crici.

Nevertheless, Universal Dice’s “Once Upon a Time” always sounds like a band effort rather than an one-man band project. It’s entertaining and emotionally affecting throughout.

Dantone deserves considerable plaudits for that accomplishment alone. It isn’t easy to balance high-minded artistic ambitions with a penchant for entertaining music. However, Universal Dice doesn’t bog themselves down with pretentiousness. “Once Upon a Time” steps lighter than you might believe as the song unfolds without cumbersome pomp and circumstance that mutes its effect on listeners. Dantone keeps the arrangement airy. Universal Dice doesn’t clutter it with unnecessary instrumentation. Everything serves a clear purpose throughout the track and crescendos with a particularly potent guitar solo near its conclusion.

His vocals play an integral role. Dantone doesn’t have a technically marvelous voice encompassing a wide range. He nonetheless possesses an evocative instrument. The singing gets under the song’s skin, bringing its speaker to life with subtlety, and Dantone’s phrasing never fails to invest the performance with the right amount of drama. He has a canny sense for developing the song’s potential without ever rushing the performance. The atmosphere of near-theatricality he brings to the cut doesn’t smack of self-indulgence but, instead, enlivens the dramatic overtones.

Misfit Memoirs and the first two singles are part of a longstanding tradition. Dantone, as a composer, takes his cues from classic rock stalwarts such as Pink Floyd and The Who, among others, as he focuses much of his songwriting efforts on character-driven stories. His first-person narrator makes an indelible mark on the listener’s consciousness. He draws a three-dimensional characterization that smacks of a flesh and blood human being rather than an empty songwriting idea, and this is characteristic of the band’s output to date.

You can appreciate the song on its own. Dantone has written a track that you don’t need to hear in the context of a longer work for it to achieve resonance with listeners. Each new release from Universal Dice continues building a legacy that belies its indie status – this isn’t music written and played on the margins and would find a wide audience in a perfect world.

It will nevertheless be an affecting listening experience for anyone who gives it a chance. Gerry Dantone’s artistry continues growing and hinges on his abiding responsiveness to the human condition. Dantone is a songwriter with a tight grasp on what makes people tick. He doesn’t take shortcuts, and his work reverberates with the sound and fury of human lives. “Once Upon a Time” deserves a place in your listening life and will encourage you to pursue more from this fantastic band.

Indie Pop Guru
review by Chadwick Easton
May 8, 2024
In the vast cosmos of rock ‘n’ roll, where trends flicker and fade like stars in the night sky, UniversalDice emerges as a steady beacon of authenticity—a guiding light amidst the ever-changing landscape of the genre. With their latest single, “Once Upon A Time,” Gerry Dantone and company deliver a soul-stirring anthem that not only pays homage to the roots of classic rock but also serves as a tantalizing teaser for their upcoming fifth studio album, “Misfit Memoirs.”

From the first pulsating notes of the organ, there’s a sense of familiarity that washes over the listener—a nod to the golden age of rock music when Hammond organs ruled the airwaves. Yet, UniversalDice is not content to simply tread the well-worn paths of nostalgia. Instead, they infuse the track with a raw energy and emotional depth that is uniquely their own.

At its core, “Once Upon A Time” is a tale of resilience—a testament to the human spirit’s ability to endure and overcome life’s myriad challenges. Dantone’s lyrics paint a vivid portrait of a young soul thrust into the crucible of adversity, his innocence battered but never broken. Lines like “My heart was pure, but no one cared” resonate with a haunting poignancy, serving as a poignant reminder of the harsh realities that shape our lives.

Musically, “Once Upon A Time” is a masterclass in restraint and nuance. Dantone’s multi-instrumental talents are on full display as he deftly weaves together layers of sound, each one adding depth and texture to the sonic tapestry. From the haunting wail of the organ to the subtle yet powerful drum licks courtesy of Vin Crici, every note serves a purpose, guiding the listener on an emotional journey through the highs and lows of the human experience.

But it’s Dantone’s vocals that truly steal the show, imbuing each line with a raw intensity and emotional resonance that is impossible to ignore. His voice carries the weight of a lifetime of trials and tribulations, soaring to dizzying heights before plunging into the depths of despair. It’s a performance that is equal parts heartache and hope—a testament to the power of music to transcend the boundaries of language and touch the very core of our souls.

As the song draws to a close, there’s a sense of catharsis—a release of emotions pent up over a lifetime of struggles and setbacks. Yet, amidst the pain and the heartache, there is also a glimmer of hope—a flicker of light in the darkness that promises redemption and renewal. “Once Upon A Time,” UniversalDice reminds us, is not just a song—it’s a rallying cry for the resilient spirit that lies within us all.

One thing is abundantly clear: this is a band at the height of their powers, unafraid to delve into the depths of the human experience and emerge stronger and more triumphant than ever before. With “Once Upon A Time” as a tantalizing taste of what’s to come, the stage is set for UniversalDice to once again stake their claim as one of rock music’s most compelling and enduring voices. So let the countdown begin, dear readers, for “Misfit Memoirs” promises to be an album for the ages—a sonic journey through the triumphs and tribulations of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of UniversalDice’s unmistakable sound.

Neufutur Magazine
Universal Dice’s “Once Upon a Time” 
Posted on: May 6, 2024 Posted by: Kim Muncie

I’m a steadfast admirer of Universal Dice’s past releases and expect that their pending release Misfit Memoirs matches or exceeds the standard set by Gerry Dantone and his bandmates. The forthcoming collection’s first two singles “Curse”, and “Once Upon a Time”, establishes a high bar. “Once Upon a Time” is the latest track from Universal Dice’s pending album and leaves a lasting effect on the listener. I applaud Dantone and his band’s faithful adherence to traditional songcraft and eschewing any bells and whistles abundant in many modern releases. It has a contemporary touch while still embracing time-tested fundamentals, and balance is one of the factors in its appeal.

I’m impressed with how he frames the song in such a gripping way. It grabs your attention from the opening notes and doesn’t release its hold until the song concludes. Despite the fraught drama and heavy emotions throughout the lyrics, it’s never a draining listening experience. Dantone long ago learned a key songwriting lesson that intense adult songwriting material demands that the artist sweeten it with musical honey to ensure mass appeal. It isn’t pandering.

This attitude recognizes that the entertainment component of any song is part of its artistic reason for being, and woe to the songwriter who disregards this truth.

The music for “Once Upon a Time” obeys this dictum. He doesn’t stuff the arrangement with an abundance of needless ballyhoo. Instead, “Once Upon a Time” embraces time-honored fundamentals while presenting itself in a modern light. Its production attributes are impeccable.

It boasts a straightforward progression that never makes unreasonable demands on the listener and achieves a low-key dramatic sweep that complements its outstanding lyrics.

Dantone’s singing further elevates those lyrics. His nuanced reading of the songwriting doesn’t revel in melodramatic excess. However, it does delve full-on into bringing the underlying characterization to life. Performing with the right tone is essential. Dantone artfully skates the line between dramatic phrasing and traditional singing without running “Once Upon a Time” into a ditch. It’s a marvel to hear.

I believe the length is another important reason for its success. It lands right in the sweet spot between being short enough that it doesn’t over-indulge and long enough that it fully develops. No listeners will feel cheated or put upon. It should translate into live performance with relative ease. Dantone’s arrangement lends itself to reproduction with minimal adjustments. I want to hear a live performance of Misfit Memoirs once the album comes out.

It’s a reminder that work that reaches high still exists. Naysayers love to remark that rock music, as the over-45 crowd knew it, is long dead. Perhaps it is as a profitable commercial concern, but the style lives and breathes as an abiding and still viable art form. There’s nothing about this song suggesting it should be in a museum. It is a work that takes itself seriously without ever sounding heavy-handed. “Once Upon a Time” is one of the most fulfilling listening experiences I’ve enjoyed so far in 2024.

REVIEW: Universal Dice — Once Upon A Time (SINGLE)
%/5/24 Colin Jordan

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern music, where algorithms reign supreme and streaming platforms dictate the ebb and flow of artistic expression, Universal Dice stands as a bastion of authenticity — a beacon of light amidst the cacophony of commercialism. With their latest single, “Once Upon A Time,” Gerry Dantone and his band of musical virtuosos offer a lyrical and melodic journey that transcends the constraints of time and space.

At its core, “Once Upon A Time” is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling — a narrative woven from threads of sorrow, longing, and redemption. As the lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, programmer, and recording, mixing, and mastering engineer for the band, Dantone wears many hats — and wears them all with a finesse that belies his years in the industry. His lyrics are a tapestry of emotion, each line a brushstroke in a larger canvas of human experience.

From the haunting opening verse to the soaring crescendo of the chorus, “Once Upon A Time” is a masterclass in lyrical poetry. Dantone’s words paint vivid images of a life lived on the fringes of society, each stanza a window into the soul of the protagonist. Lines like “My heart was pure, but no one cared” and “Have half a heart, the fire burns but not as hot” resonate with a raw honesty that is as refreshing as it is rare in today’s musical landscape.

But it is not just the lyrics that set “Once Upon A Time” apart — it is the music itself, a lush tapestry of sound that envelops the listener like a warm embrace. Longtime collaborators Bob Barcus on guitar and Eddie Canova on bass lend their considerable talents to the mix, their contributions adding depth and texture to Universal Dice’s signature sound. With keyboard support from the venerable Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici, the song takes on a life of its own — a symphony of sound that is at once hauntingly beautiful and achingly melancholic.

What sets Universal Dice apart from their peers is their unwavering commitment to artistic integrity. With each album release, from the introspective musings of “mostly True Stories” to the electrifying energy of “My Name Is Thomas,” the band has defied genre conventions and pushed the boundaries of musical expression. And with “Once Upon A Time” serving as the second single off their upcoming fifth studio album, “Misfit Memoirs,” Universal Dice continues to blaze a trail of innovation and creativity in an industry dominated by formulaic pop hits and soulless commercialism.

But perhaps the most pressing issue facing modern music today is the rise of streaming platforms and their impact on artistic freedom and expression. In a world where algorithms dictate the music we listen to and artists struggle to make ends meet, Universal Dice’s commitment to authenticity is more important than ever. And yet, despite the challenges posed by the streaming era, Universal Dice remains steadfast in their dedication to the craft. “Once Upon A Time” is a testament to the enduring power of music to transcend the limitations of technology and touch the very core of our humanity. It is a reminder that in a world of fleeting trends and disposable pop songs, there are still artists who dare to dream, who dare to create, and who dare to make music that matters.

With “Misfit Memoirs” on the horizon, let us celebrate the artistry and vision of Universal Dice — a band that continues to defy expectations and inspire audiences around the world. In “Once Upon A Time,” they have crafted a song for the ages — a lyrical and melodic journey that resonates with the timeless truths of the human experience. So let us raise our voices in praise of Universal Dice, and in doing so, reaffirm our belief in the enduring power of music to unite, to heal, and to uplift the soul.

UniversalDice “Once Upon A Time”

May 6, 2024 by Claire Uebelacker
In a world where the pulse of rock music often races with fervor, UniversalDice’s latest single “Once Upon A Time” emerges as a poignant reminder that within the genre’s vast landscape lies a space for introspection and contemplation. With a nod to classic rock’s heyday, Gerry Dantone, the mastermind behind UniversalDice, crafts a track that not only captivates with its infectious melodies but also delves into the depths of the human experience.

From the opening notes of the organ in the verse, there’s an immediate sense of nostalgia that washes over the listener. It’s as if UniversalDice invites us to step back in time, to revisit the essence of rock music’s roots. Yet, beneath the familiar tones lies a tale of youthful innocence lost and love found and lost again—a narrative that unfolds with both grace and gravitas.

Dantone’s lyrical prowess shines through as he paints vivid scenes of a young life shaped by circumstance. “Once, upon a time,” he begins, drawing us into a world where innocence collides with harsh realities. The story of a ten-year-old caught in the web of his father’s illicit dealings unfolds with a raw honesty that cuts to the core. Lines like “My heart was pure, but no one cared” resonate deeply, serving as a reminder of the innocence lost in the face of adversity.

Yet, amidst the darkness, there’s a glimmer of hope—a love that blossoms and fades like a fleeting dream. Dantone’s vocals carry a sense of longing as he recounts the bittersweet memories of a romance that was destined to unravel. “We laughed, until we cried,” he croons, capturing the essence of youthful exuberance tempered by the harsh realities of life.

Musically, “Once Upon A Time” strikes a delicate balance between melancholy and melody. Dantone’s multi-instrumental talents are on full display as he weaves together layers of sound, each one adding depth to the narrative unfolding. From the haunting strains of the organ to the subtle yet powerful drum licks courtesy of Vin Crici, every note serves a purpose, guiding the listener through the highs and lows of the protagonist’s journey.

What sets “Once Upon A Time” apart is its ability to resonate on a deeply personal level while simultaneously tapping into universal themes of love, loss, and redemption. In a world where the pace of life often leaves little room for introspection, UniversalDice reminds us of the power of music to serve as a mirror to our own experiences.

As the song draws to a close, there’s a sense of catharsis—a release of emotions pent up over a lifetime of trials and tribulations. Dantone’s vocals soar against a backdrop of swirling instrumentation, carrying with them a sense of resolve born from adversity. “Have half a heart,” he sings, a testament to the scars that shape us and the resilience that allows us to endure.

In “Once Upon A Time,” UniversalDice offers not just a song, but a journey—an exploration of the human condition that resonates long after the final chord fades. With its infectious melodies and heartfelt lyrics, this track serves as a fitting second single for the upcoming album “Misfit Memoirs,” promising listeners an emotional rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of life.

In a musical landscape often dominated by superficiality, UniversalDice stands out as a beacon of authenticity—a reminder that within the realm of rock music lies a space for vulnerability, honesty, and above all, humanity. “Once Upon A Time” is more than just a song—it’s a testament to the power of music to heal, to inspire, and to connect us in ways that transcend the boundaries of time and space.

Big Celebrity Buzz
“Once Upon A Time” by Universal Dice
May 6, 2024 by Cleopatra Patel

In the hallowed halls of rock history, where legends are born and anthems are etched into the collective consciousness, Universal Dice stands as a beacon of artistic integrity and musical prowess. Led by the multi-talented Gerry Dantone, this Long Island-based outfit has been carving out their own niche in the rock landscape since their inception, and with their latest single, “Once Upon A Time,” they prove once again why they are a force to be reckoned with.

From the haunting strains of the organ that open the track to the soaring vocals of Dantone, “Once Upon A Time” is a masterclass in storytelling through song. As the lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, programmer, and recording, mixing, and mastering engineer for the band, Dantone wears many hats—and wears them all with effortless grace. His lyrics paint a vivid picture of a life shaped by adversity, each line resonating with a raw honesty and emotional depth that is impossible to ignore.

But Dantone is not alone in his musical journey. Longtime bandmates Bob Barcus on guitar and Eddie Canova on bass lend their considerable talents to the mix, their contributions adding depth and texture to Universal Dice’s unmistakable sound. And with keyboard support from Long Island musical giants Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici, “Once Upon A Time” takes on a life of its own—a symphony of sound that is at once familiar and utterly unique.

What sets Universal Dice apart from their contemporaries is their unwavering commitment to authenticity. With each album release, from their debut “Birth, Love, Hate, Death” to their most recent offering “My Name Is Thomas,” the band has fearlessly explored the depths of the human experience, crafting songs that resonate with audiences on a deeply personal level. And with “Once Upon A Time” serving as the second single off their upcoming fifth album, “Misfit Memoirs,” Universal Dice shows no signs of slowing down.

Indeed, “Once Upon A Time” serves as a tantalizing taste of what’s to come—a prelude to the sonic journey that awaits listeners on “Misfit Memoirs.” With its infectious melodies and heartfelt lyrics, the track is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, a reminder that even in the face of life’s greatest challenges, there is always hope.

As the song builds to its crescendo, Dantone’s vocals soar above the swirling instrumentation, carrying with them a sense of defiance and determination. “Have half a heart,” he sings, a rallying cry for those who have been knocked down but refuse to stay down. It’s a message that resonates with audiences of all ages, a reminder that we are stronger than we know, and that our scars are a testament to our strength, not our weakness.

And so let us raise a toast to Universal Dice—a band that continues to push the boundaries of rock music while staying true to their roots. With “Once Upon A Time” as their latest offering, they prove once again that in a world of fleeting trends and empty promises, there is still room for music that speaks to the soul. So let the countdown begin, dear readers, for “Misfit Memoirs” promises to be an album for the ages—a timeless ode to the resilience of the human spirit, brought to life by the incomparable talents of Universal Dice.

Daily Pop News
Universal Dice “Once Upon A Time” (SINGLE)
May 6, 2024 by Jodi Marxbury

As a music enthusiast who often finds solace in the eclectic realms of indie pop and electronic beats, delving into the world of Universal Dice’s “Once Upon A Time” felt like embarking on a thrilling expedition into uncharted territory. With a fresh perspective and an open mind, I approached this single with a sense of curiosity and anticipation, eager to discover what secrets lay hidden within its sonic depths.

From the moment the opening notes reverberated through my headphones, I was immediately struck by the song’s ethereal quality. There’s a dreamlike quality to the music—a sense of otherworldly enchantment that captivates the senses and draws the listener into its hypnotic embrace.

It’s not just Dantone’s multi-faceted musical prowess that sets “Once Upon A Time” apart—it’s the song’s lyrical depth and emotional resonance as well. His words are a poetic meditation on the passage of time and the bittersweet nature of human experience, each line resonating with a raw honesty and vulnerability that is impossible to ignore. Lines like “My heart was pure, but no one cared” and “Have half a heart, the fire burns but not as hot” speak to the universal truths of love, loss, and redemption that lie at the core of the human condition.

As the song unfolds, layers of sound build upon each other in a mesmerizing dance of light and shadow. Bob Barcus on guitar and Eddie Canova on bring a special flair of their own, their contributions adding depth and texture to Universal Dice’s unmistakable sound; adding in keyboard support from the esteemed Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici, “Once Upon A Time” takes on a rich and immersive quality—a sonic journey that transports the listener to a world of infinite possibility.

For someone like myself, whose musical tastes tend to lean towards the more electronic and experimental end of the spectrum, “Once Upon A Time” offers a refreshing departure from the ordinary. The song’s low-tempo rhythms and shifting, haunting melodies evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, inviting the listener to lose themselves in its shimmering depths. It’s a heady concoction of sound and emotion—a mesmerizing fusion of genres and influences that defies easy categorization.

And yet, for all its complexity, “Once Upon A Time” remains accessible and relatable—a testament to Universal Dice’s ability to craft music that speaks to the heart as well as the mind. In a world where music is often reduced to mere background noise, this single stands as a shining example of the transformative power of art to inspire, to uplift, and to connect us with something greater than ourselves.

As I eagerly await the release of Universal Dice’s fifth studio album, “Misfit Memoirs,” I find myself filled with a sense of anticipation and excitement. If “Once Upon A Time” is any indication of what’s to come, then we are in for a treat—an auditory feast for the senses that promises to transport us to new and unexplored realms of sound and emotion. So let us raise our voices in praise of Universal Dice, and in doing so, celebrate the boundless potential of music to transcend boundaries and unite us all in a shared journey of discovery.

Indie Music Reviews
Universal Dice Aims High With New Single 
Zachary Rush, May 6, 2024
They aren’t a band that turns out hodgepodge collections of songs. Gerry Dantone’s songwriting aspires to accomplish greater things. His work for Universal Dice wrestles with hard-hitting themes supported by superb musicianship and thoughtful, layered musical arrangements. There’s no coasting with Universal Dice’s material. Their latest single, “Once Upon a Time”, from the new album Misfit Memoirs supplies evidence of this. It is an excellent standalone track that illustrates the band’s merits while clearly working as a piece in an overall storytelling puzzle that will fully reveal itself with the release of their new album. It will engage brains and bodies alike.

Too few modern musical works manage this. The path of least resistance often steers them toward the body certain, more often than not correctly, that audiences have precious little patience for thinking and prefer to boogie. Universal Dice isn’t mindless. Gerry Dantone’s songwriting grapples with serious questions about what it means to be human and frequently under the most trying circumstances imaginable. He doesn’t forget that a crucial part of his songwriting mission entails entertaining listeners. However, it’s part of a total package, rather than the sole reason for being.

“Once Upon a Time” never spares listeners. Its depiction of an unhealthy father and son relationship in a fallen world rings out with honesty rather than coddling listeners with cliches. The accompanying musical arrangement emphasizes the deep emotion stirred by the words without ever falling prey to bathos. Gerry Dantone doesn’t shy away from the theatrical aspects of “Once Upon a Time” and his other work but shows care that he doesn’t allow them to dominate.

Many longtime music fans will appreciate his take on the rock form. This review loosely uses the term rock as “Once Upon a Time” never embraces uptempo 4/4 bravado, blazing guitar solos, and frontman histrionics. The new single continues in much of the same vein Dantone explored during its predecessor, “Curse”. It is perhaps a little more direct than its forerunner. It nonetheless builds around the same classic rock aesthetic. You won’t be able to pick out one above all others, but Dantone’s influences are audible.

He doesn’t treat the style like a butterfly pinned under glass. “Once Upon a Time” is a living, breathing musical work rather than an unearthed relic. His attentive vocals are perhaps the marquee element. It’s dazzling to hear Dantone shepherd the song every second of the way, embodying each turn of the lyrics with care, and shaping his singing to the arrangement.

Gerry Dantone’s vocals are as well-rounded a singing performance as you’ll hear this year.

It further solidifies Misfit Memoirs’ status as one of 2024’s must-hear collections. The auspicious level of talent responsible for a song such as this never rests on its laurels. It glows with craftsmanship and a willingness to take risks that few others dare in the modern musical landscape. “Once Upon a Time” is a deceptively ambitious gem you should hear and grows on you with each added listen.

Once Upon a Time added to Playlists!  4500+ streams in less than 3 weeks
April 29, 2024
Rock En Espanol - Lo Mejor Del Rock en Espanol
Clasico en Lingles - Clasicos de los 80s & 90s
Musica triste en Ingles

“Curse” has been added to over 25 playlists including 3 curated by Spotify!
April 29, 2024
New Add: Rock/Pop 

“Curse” by UniversalDice added to Spotify curated Release Radar!
March 10, 2024
Over 100,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify everyday, about 700,000 per week.  Many, obviously, are rock oriented songs. Every week, Spotify updates it own algo curated “Release Radar” playlist with 30 songs on it tailored to each user.  Songs are not on the playlist for long, but it is good to be on this playlist.

“Curse” From Universal Dice
Skope Magazine
April 12, 2024
Gwen Waggoner

The first single “Curse” from Universal Dice’s new album Misfit Memoirs throws down a gauntlet challenging the idea that classic rock is passe. Gerry Dantone’s creative stewardship over Universal Dice has produced several memorable moments already, but “Curse” ranks among the finest work yet from this unit. It harbingers a brilliant release with Misfits Memoirs while standing on its own as a thoroughly satisfying musical experience. The classic virtues of first-rate songwriting are in evidence from beginning to end and patiently developed with a steady and confident hand. “Curse” checks off all the boxes you may have for solid songwriting and focuses on intensely human emotions. There are no shortcuts.


The song’s structure reflects this. One of Dantone’s shrewdest decisions is bookending the track with a sparse acoustic guitar that sets an appropriate mood for the song’s main body. The production renders these moments with fitting intimacy. Building the track with underlying acoustic throughout is another intelligent move. It’s a classic design for such material, something Dantone knows all too well, and he employs it in a convincing fashion. It never sounds like window-dressing. The delicate dynamics resulting from the mix of acoustic and electric guitar help elevate the song.

Dantone’s dramatic and even slightly theatric vocals are another factor. However, the theatricality of his vocal phrasing never weighs down the track with overwrought histrionics. Dantone’s touch is light enough that it straddles the fence between emotional heft and musicality without ever dragging the song into melodramatics. Structuring the song’s lyrics as a dialogue between two obviously discontent family members serves the song well, and it affords Dantone multiple opportunities to explore his emotional range.

His singing is enormously complementary to the arrangement. “Curse” has a mid-tempo pace, and the measured intensity of his vocals fits the cut. He doesn’t overstuff the arrangement with extraneous verbiage. It’s a song lacking in wasted motion, and the lyrics and vocals lock into that aesthetic. His collaborators, longtime fixtures in Dantone’s musical life, provide able support and are sympathetic to the songwriting’s aims.

It is likely best that “Curse” finds its ultimate consideration judged alongside the remainder of Misfits Memoirs. It’s obviously the piece in a full-length puzzle rather than a disparate tune. Nevertheless, “Curse” can be appreciated on its own merits. It is an ideal first single for the new album that reaffirms Universal Dice’s ongoing commitment to writing and releasing top-shelf adult material rather than mindless commercial fare. It has the potential to appeal to a wide swath of the listening public.

These numerous factors and more position “Curse” as one of 2024’s most fulfilling singles. Gerry Dantone and Universal Dice continue carving out an individual niche in the modern musical landscape that looks to the past for inspiration while presenting a thoroughly current face to the world. Five-star craftsmanship abounds throughout the entirety of this performance. He strikes a nerve with this raw, unyielding, yet profoundly affecting single and furthers Universal Dice’s claim to be one of the most rewarding musical acts working today.

UPDATE! “Curse” Playlist adds!
April 10, 2024
Rock Classicos Anos 80 e 90
Antigas Internacionais 80s, 90s e 2000s 
Anos 70, 80, 90. So Classico!
Waking Up in a good mood 3/13/24 the magazine said “I'm really glad to have discovered this song, it is very cool, I love it :) Happy to add it to my playlist”
Skate Vibes 3/11/24 Tim said “Unique track! You have a great voice and I can find myself in the words. The song will for sure be added to my playlist!”
Indie Rock Favorites 3/11/24 Jeroen said “What I like about the track is that the atmosphere is very pleasant to hear. Also, I like what you are singing about. Great work UniversalDice!
Indie Rock Discovery 3/10/24 3/10/24 Maarten said “I like the atmosphere of the track! Moreover, the lyrics resonate with me and the recording quality is on point. I will add your song to my playlist and I'm looking forward to future releases!”
Indie Rock Radar 3/10/24 Ruben said "The track has a nice atmosphere! Additionally, the content of the lyrics are great and the instrumental is of high quality. I will add your song UniversalDice!
The Best of Rock 3/9/24   Joe said “Beautiful instrumental lines and a great melody, voices in tune, synchronized and well interpreted, the song has a great sound identity, good mixing and mastering!”
Pause and Play 3/11/24 - new songs playlist

Independent Music and Arts Insider
Gerry Dantone-led Universal Dice Releases “Curse”
Clay Burton
I confess my familiarity with Universal Dice isn’t great. It’s only recently that I first became acquainted with their music and, as such, the experience still has a fresh hold on me. However, I can’t help but believe that longtime fans of the Gerry Dantone-led outfit will greet their new single “Curse” from the band’s new collection Misfit Memoirs with fulsome enthusiasm.

Few standalone songs are as complete. Dantone has composed a winning track that works on multiple levels rather than pushing one or two buttons for listeners. It boasts a classic sound without ever aping any specific band or past track; experienced music listeners with a broad frame of reference will find it appealing. Newcomers will hear an immediately accessible performance that, nevertheless, does make some demands on the audience.


They are demands that make for a more fulfilling outing. “Curse” involves listeners in a song fraught with high emotional stakes rather than peddling a trite paint-by-numbers drama befitting lesser pop songs. The unreserved intensity of the dialogue between the song’s two characters never flinches and gives listeners little respite.

It moves the heart. It also reaches frightening intensity thanks to the songwriting’s plainspoken nature. I admire Dantone’s willingness to pull no punches, and the band manifests an equal willingness to follow him into this daring territory. There’s nothing fundamentally revolutionary about “Curse”. The elements he draws from for success are tried-and-true, even predictable. Dantone and his bandmates use them in such an effective fashion that you can’t help but be pulled into its web.

It gains weight rather than bloats thanks to its length. Running over five minutes long doesn’t make it radio-friendly, short attention span listeners need not apply, but that isn’t Universal Dice’s target audience. “Curse” is far from a highbrow track. However, it does aim for an audience that asks, even craves, more for their music than the customary.

Dantone’s singing finds the mark on that score. The hushed, sometimes literal, focus he brings to his performance behooves you to listen. It’s a lot like a compelling shot in a memorable movie where the camerawork is so spot-on that you can’t turn away. You don’t want to. Universal Dice, far beyond Dantone’s contributions alone, are musical magicians who conjure powerful sorcery from seemingly simple materials.

It’s an ever-timely reminder that less is more. Or, as said in music before, it’s what you don’t play that matters. “Curse” never bites off more than it can chew despite its obvious ambition. I’m gratified to know that there are still powerful musical units on the scene that can make listeners feel and take their artistic mandate with the utmost seriousness. “Curse” foregoes mindless entertainment to expose listeners to a side of life that they might otherwise ignore.

However, they’ll come away edified once they’ve heard it. There was a time when modern music harbored several bands like Universal Dice. Those bands viewed traditional “classic” rock as a promising vehicle for exploring adult emotions and scenarios capable of illuminating life for listeners. Universal Dice are keepers of a flame, and “Curse” makes it burn a little brighter than before.

IndiePulse Music
Universal Dice’s Latest Song “Curse”
Mindy McCall

Universal Dice’s latest song “Curse” is the first single from the band’s new studio effort titled Misfit Memoirs. It reveals that songwriter Gerry Dantone and his skilled cohorts are working at or near the peak of their powers and still pursuing a fresh yet familiar aesthetic. Dantone comes across as a true believer in Lou Reed’s idea that you can write rock music for grown-ups rather than trying to sustain a career based on letting the good times roll, fast cars, and women. “Curse” does not hesitate to deal with thorny, even uncomfortable, human emotions and doesn’t offer easy answers. His unflinching depiction of people locked in dramatic combat with all of the attendant heated emotions, consequences, and aftermath is a superb example of rock music’s enduring power in the 21st century.

You can tell Dantone is a true believer. It comes through every second of this five-minute plus cut. Classic rock fans will note that Dantone has learned his lessons well for structuring a ballad, not the top 40 variety, but rather a substantive track that takes listeners on a deep emotional dive. The emotions laced throughout the song’s lyrics are dramatic, and Dantone’s singing treats them with the respect they deserve. He is an attentive singer who shapes his singing to fit the movement of the music rather than trying to lead the way with his voice.

This seamlessness between the song’s various components strengthens the overall package. Dantone and his bandmates leave no stone unturned to make the song a success. The lead guitar playing in the song’s second half adds savory flavor to an already tasty performance without ever sounding too cliched. A song such as this could easily smack of pretentiousness in less sophisticated hands. However, Dantone and his musical partners grasp what it needs and deliver the goods with style.

“Curse” benefits from outstanding production values. There is not a plethora of instruments cluttering the arrangement, and each player comes through without overshadowing their bandmates. The light veneer of orchestration present throughout the piece only increases the song’s impact on listeners. Dantone’s voice exists side by side with the instruments rather than sounding superimposed over the arrangement.

The construction is impeccable. Dantone’s songwriting eschews any needless detours or extravagance in favor of presenting the song to maximum effect. He opens the performance with plaintive acoustic guitar chords and concludes the performance on the same note affording us with a rare unity from such material. There is a bit of self-consciousness you can infer from such a build. In Dantone’s hands, it sounds natural.

The track lives and breathes with minimal effort. Nothing sounds labored or overworked. Universal Dice crafts a single that will satisfy any longtime rock fan, young or old, and performs the enviable feat of balancing the past and present without ever deferring too much in either direction. There are not many bands or solo artists you can say that about. Universal Dice’s “Curse” checks off every conceivable box and leaves you wanting more.  

Top Buzz Magazine
UniversalDice's “Curse”
Heather Savage
If you value songwriting that you can sink your teeth into, look no further. Universal Dice’s “Curse” from their latest album Misfit Memoirs isn’t your typical retro-minded classic rock knockoff. The narrative-minded nature of the song gives listeners plenty to latch onto for the track’s duration, and the accompanying arrangement accentuates the memorable lyrical content. It’s one of the most well-rounded rock/pop efforts you’ll hear in recent memory. It looks to the past for musical inspiration, or at least some will hear it that way, but there’s another point of view that says Universal Dice freshly uses timeless strengths. Their songwriting engages the body and mind without ever lapsing into brainless cliché.

It’s a song that resists easy listening. Let’s clarify. “Curse” excels for several reasons, and among them is an appealing and melodic arrangement that sweetens its otherwise serious subject matter. Gerry Dantone understands that it’s necessary, at least advisable, to deliver intense emotional material with an entertaining musical setting. Treating “Curse” like a funeral dirge would undercut the song’s potential.

However, you can’t ignore the lyrics. Familial strife is a bedrock artistic subject ranging from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and myriad other works in assorted mediums. Dantone’s look into that dark realm doesn’t traffic in making listeners comfortable. He presents the emotional tone of both “speakers” with unforgiving pointedness and doesn’t offer them an obvious way out. Search elsewhere if you’re looking for Hollywood-style happy conclusions.

If you’re looking for an invigorating emotional experience on both a lyrical and musical level, you’re in the right place. You can’t help but finish this song believing you’ve heard a truly human moment depicted in a musical setting. There’s hardly any better praise you can bestow upon the track.

Bob Barcus’ guitar playing provides an excellent counterpoint to Dantone’s vocals. There are several points in the song where you can hear their interplay, never pronounced, as a sort of duet with Barcus’ work supplying an instrumental response to Dantone’s nuanced vocal phrasing. The acoustic guitar running throughout the performance is a steady rhythmic accompaniment, and the band as a whole shows immense chemistry throughout the cut.

It isn’t difficult to imagine this song succeeding in a live setting with minimal adaptation. The studio proves to be no obstacle to achieving a “live” sound. Misfit Memoirs is the band’s fifth release, and the core unit responsible for its end result has the benefit of many years playing together. They have long since gelled into a cohesive musical entity that can address themselves to any musical setting.

This first single from the new album promises a lot from the outset and never disappoints. Dantone may lead the way with his storytelling acumen and songwriting skills, but it isn’t a glorified solo project. Universal Dice is the real deal as a traditional band. “Curse” hints that this new opus may be the band’s peak moment, but you finish hearing this song certain that they have many more productive years ahead. 

REVIEW: Universal Dice — Curse (SINGLE)
Colin Jordan
Universal Dice’s “Curse” caught me a little off-guard. Rarely is a parent/child relationship depicted in such an unforgiving light and songwriter Gerry Dantone’s pared back language pierces the heart of the matter with zero pretense. It doesn’t explain everything for listeners, preferring to encourage the audience to draw their own conclusions, and the song gains added power from this decision.


I think the accompanying arrangement is ideal for the lyrical content. It has a traditional bent, without a doubt, but the dramatic rise of the music helps accentuate the evolution of the lyrics. Dantone and his bandmates such as lead guitarist Bob Barcus, bassist Ed Canova, as well as keyboardists Vin Crici and Walt Sargent boast an audible chemistry that sustains the song from its opening notes through the conclusion.

A big reason why is because it checks every conceivable box. Fans of acoustic-based singer/songwriter material will find a lot here to love and classic rock fans will be especially drawn to lead guitarist Bob Barcus’ contributions to the cut. They are wise refraining from adding extra varnish to the percussion and, as a result, the song’s pulse has a steady and dry heartbeat that sets an authoritative tone. It helps anchor the song for me and emphasizes its solid architecture.

Dantone’s lead vocals emphasize the pain at the heart of this song. There are undercurrents of other emotions present throughout the track, but I hear him eschewing any overt displays of other emotions in favor of raw red-eyed heartache. It’s appropriate for a song about family discord on the highest level, so bad that the parents are ready to disown their child, and it’s to his credit that Dantone never plays up the melodramatic potential for such a scenario. Instead, he presents the situation in stark, unforgiving terms.

The song’s language reinforces that. It reminds me of the famed opening line from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina — “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” We aren’t privy to the source of this particular family’s unhappiness, but it runs deep. The music, especially Bob Barcus’ lead guitar, highlights that unhappiness with piercing six-string lines and phrases scattered throughout the recording. Harmony vocals, as well, strike a particularly poignant note.

It’s a poignant song from beginning to end. It also leaves me intensely curious to hear more from this release. I suspect that “Curse” is culled from a larger storyline that stretches across the entirety of the band’s upcoming collection Misfit Memoirs, but no matter if it doesn’t. There’s universality present in this song that, unfortunately, many listeners will relate to.

It’s a hallmark of the band’s work.

In close Universal Dice make music and write songs about flesh and blood human beings struggling to make sense of this weird interlude of time we call life. They aren’t writing about fast cars, fast women, bling, or politics ripped from today’s front page and often dated within a year. Their focus is on the timeless aspects of existence and “Curse” embodies that for all to hear. 
Nicole Killian
Universal Dice’s amazing new single “Curse” is an early harbinger of the band’s forthcoming album release Misfit Memoirs. Gerry Dantone’s songwriting ambitions remain as vibrant and far-reaching as ever. Those ambitions are buttressed by a solid and well-developed musical arrangement that complements Dantone’s lyrical aims. The lyrics are laid out as a two-part dialogue with one character answering another and the conceptual conceit implies that Dantone builds the forthcoming Misfit Memoirs around an overarching narrative. It doesn’t inhibit the listener’s ability, however, to appreciate “Curse” on its own isolated merits.

The single boasts a classic rock ballad sound from the outset while generating steadfast, inexorable energy. There’s nothing rushed about the performance, however, and the considered manner that Universal Dice adopts for delivering the tune accentuates its deep wealth of underlying emotion. They opt for a classic configuration with acoustic guitar providing the song’s bedrock and building it upwards from that one key component. The steady strum of the aforementioned acoustic is well-represented in the mix while being thoroughly integrated with the song’s other elements.

The lyrics are convincing as an exchange between two characters with one conveying their sentiments during the first half of the song while the second commands our attention during the song’s second half. It is a dialogue between a disgruntled parent and child with both parties consumed by mutual hurts as well. Anger and resentment are bedfellows with despair during the song’s first portion while heartache dominates the second. Dantone doesn’t vary his delivery between the two to any radical degree, but there are enough differences to make each part stand on its own.

Bob Barcus’ lead guitar certainly stands out. He holds back for much of the tune, adding an assortment of appropriate fills over top of the acoustic rhythm track, but his contributions are especially key during the final half of the track. He helps strengthen an already vivid classic rock vibe that runs rife throughout “Curse”.

Universal Dice has always aimed high with their prior releases and “Curse” is no exception. They engage adult themes rather than centering their songwriting on disposable subjects that ultimately offer a few minutes of entertainment for listeners before dissolving into the ether. “Curse” examines dark family dynamics in a way that compels us to listen on and pulls no punches while doing so.

We can expect that the whole of Misfit Memoirs will do the same. Gerry Dantone and Universal Dice’s conceptual leanings are in full evidence here and, despite not knowing the full import of their album to come, it isn’t a stretch to see how “Curse” fits into that design. If so, it’s an excellent start. Dantone and his bandmates aren’t relics or dinosaurs from a bygone era, not by any estimation, but they adhere to an exalted view of music’s possibilities increasingly scant in such fragmented times. “Curse” is a steady reprove against the transient and ephemeral and we’re all the better for it. Check it out today and you’re sure to agree that, no matter whatever faults you may find, Universal Dice believes in what they’re doing.

About Author / Nicole Killian
Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

Hollywood Digest
Garth Thomas
Universal Dice are set to soon return with a new album entitled Misfits Memoirs and the impressive five-piece led by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gerry Dantone may be on the cusp of their greatest moment yet.


The album’s debut single “Curse” offers ample evidence for that. It’s a compelling piece that hinges on Dantone’s ability to create dramatically gripping characters within the context of popular songwriting. The lyrics are written in such a way that they suggest the song is part of a larger storyline rather than an isolated work, yet “Curse” has plenty of rewards as a standalone work of musical art.

Those rewards begin with its conversational lyrics. It’s a dramatic piece, of a sort, structured for two characters, a parent and a child, exchanging bitter recriminations in light of someone unknown wrong that both parties feel aggrieved by. There’s an obvious ocean of dissatisfaction separating the song’s dueling parties, but Dantone and Universal Dice depict that breakdown in a despairing, elegiac style rather than as a blast of verbal or musical rage. Dantone’s delivery relies on pleasing vocal harmonies and double-tracked singing that further reinforces the impression of an ongoing conversation between the characters.

The musical backing recalls classic rock influences and has an almost folky vibe. Lead guitarist Bob Barcus contributes emotional vamps of varying lengths throughout the piece and there is a lightly orchestrated feel to the performance that, fortunately, never comes off as stilted or overly rehearsed. The drumming sets a strong unwavering tone for the song while fitting in nicely with the tune’s overall sonic build.

The drumming is another key piece of the musical puzzle. It isn’t fancy at all, but the rock solid timekeeping it provides “Curse” aids the song’s development in myriad ways. Among them, the musicians base their timing off its insistent pulse, of course, and it adds extra dramatic oomph to an already memorable performance. “Curse” likewise benefits from five-star “in house” production. Universal Dice is a self-contained unit rather than music industry darlings and there’s a decidedly homemade quality about the single that never smacks of DIY or amateurism.

Anyone looking for a happy go lucky tune should search elsewhere. Universal Dice is cognizant of this and addresses it with appealing vocal harmonies and arranging that softens the ruthless blows the lyrics often level on the listener. This isn’t a song brimming with easy emotions or answers. It does lack a bit in the sense that we aren’t able to judge it in the larger context of Misfit Memoirs as a whole, but that restriction is light and shouldn’t dampen a listener’s enthusiasm for the song.

If anything, it should whet their appetite for the full release. This is one of the chief, if not primary, aims of any lead-off single. We’ll likely hear more from this album before it is released in full and this is an excellent opening building block. The tantalizing promise of Misfit Memoirs is coming into focus and there is certain to be a bevy of listeners awaiting its eventual release.

Melody Maker
UniversalDice Release “Curse’ Single
Chadwick Easton
Universal Dice keeps impressing me more and more each time I encounter their music. Musical Mastermind Gerry Dantone and his bandmates are never content with releasing cookie cutter rock or pop music that you forget days, if not hours, after hearing for the first time. They set their sights higher. I applaud their ambition and willingness to contend with weighty themes, the sort that you find in first class literature, and they have the depth as both songwriters and musicians to back it up.


Moreover, they back it up without ever sounding heavy-handed or pretentious. The band’s new single “Curse” from their pending new album Misfit Memoirs is a deceptively simple track that conveys its dramatic firepower without any ostentatious displays of musical prowess. Universal Dice, instead, builds this song from the ground up with straightforward acoustic guitar chords and unadorned drumming providing a solid skeleton around which everything else revolves. I found myself hooked from the outset.

It’s easy to be. There’s a dramatic hook reeling us in as Dantone and the band soon reveal the song’s tale of woe. We hear a first-person point of view reproach from an unhappy parent ready to disown their disappointing progeny and it’s communicated with sparse understated verbiage that cuts to the bone. The band’s theatrical inclinations are evident in the way they structure the song as a two-way conversation between the unnamed parent and, in the second part of the song, frame the child’s response for listeners. In the hands of a lesser talent, I think this falls flat, but Dantone and Universal Dice succeed where others would fail.

They certainly succeed in surrounding the words with the right musical backing. The core of “Curse” is Gerry Dantone’s acoustic guitar playing that maintains a presence for the entirety of the tune; it’s a stock move, but always effective. The music skirts the border between folk and blues, certainly falling into the singer/songwriter camp, and I can easily envision fans of either style enjoying the track.

It isn’t especially lengthy and exceptionally well-produced. You’d never peg this as an “indie” tune as the sonic signature of the performance matches anything released by A-list bands or major labels. Universal Dice’s focus on fundamentals and wise decisions pays off with a track that sounds every bit as important as its content aspires toward. It never overextends its reach and the mid-tempo pace doesn’t make for a dull listen.

‘Misfit Memoirs is shaping up, on the basis of this song, to be one of the finest releases yet from this band. They have experienced some lineup fluctuations but, for the most part, the unit has enjoyed the necessary consistency to establish a dependable “character” as a band. Dantone’s songwriting is at the heart of it all, I believe, but it wouldn’t work as well as it does if he didn’t surround himself with simpatico musicians who share his vision and one of a kind musical chemistry. “Curse” is outstanding in every respect and one of the young year’s must-hear performances.

Indie Shark Music Magazine
Universal Dice “Curse” (SINGLE)
Mark Druery

You can’t ever accuse Universal Dice of aiming for the lowest common denominator. I believe songwriter Gerry Dantone and his cohorts merge thought provoking themes, adult subject matter, and beguiling musical settings better than many much more well-known contemporaries and are writing and recording music aglow with timeless attributes. Their new single “Curse” from the forthcoming album release Misfit Memoirs is an excellent example of this.



It’s structured as a dialogue between a parent and a child. “Curse” pulls no lyrical punches and its conversational, yet unflinchingly direct language connects with listeners from the outset. You won’t need to play the song several times to grasp what’s going on. Nevertheless, the musical components of the track encourage multiple passes. It’s delivered in a straightforward fashion yet the near-orchestral construction of the song, incremental in its effects rather than showing all its cards at once, begs for listeners to revisit it in order to fully appreciate its merits.

The track opens with acoustic guitar and Dantone’s lightly double-tracked vocals. Lead guitarist Bob Barcus punctuates the opening with scattered flourishes that heighten the drama and the table is set for a gradual accumulation of instrumental touches. The song’s percussion sets a relaxed mid-tempo pace. Barcus continues exerting considerable influence over the song’s trajectory with additional lead guitar lines, albeit brief, positioned at key points in the song’s arrangement.

“Curse” certainly benefits from its strong vocal melody. There are several stretches of harmony vocals heard during the track, as well, and they complement the persistent jangle at the song’s heart. There’s an inherent melancholy defining this song, never mired in despair, but nonetheless strongly reflected in the song’s insistent questioning during the second half of its “dialogue”. It’s a deceptively simple tune in its instrumentation and length but still packs a sly emotional wallop that gathers over time rather than attempting to bulldoze listeners.

Dantone’s lead vocal exercises tremendous patience. He never rushes his performance and allows the music ample room to breathe rather than trying to fill every possible space with his singing. The gentle lilt of his voice helps sweeten an otherwise woeful “message” underlying the performance. You’re not going to hear any “holes” in this song – “Curse” provides listeners with a solid listening experience from its tentative opening through its conclusive finish. It covers all the bases.

We should expect no less from Dantone and company. The members of Universal Dice have worked together for some time now and their familiarity bears tasty fruit with the new single “Curse”. This is an artistic unit, without question, but they are likewise capable of giving listeners a satisfying entertainment experience without ever pandering for the audience’s attention.

It definitely will breed curiosity about the pending album release of Misfit Memoirs. It’s what a lead single is supposed to do; whet our appetites for the main course. Based on this single alone, the forthcoming Universal Dice offering promises to be their best effort yet and a sturdy ever-timely reminder that classic songwriting fundamentals are never out of style.

“Curse” Playlist adds!
Waking Up in a good mood 3/13/24 onearthmagazine said “I'm really glad to have discovered this song, it is very cool, I love it :) Happy to add it to my playlist”
Skate Vibes 3/11/24 Tim said “Unique track! You have a great voice and I can find myself in the words. The song will for sure be added to my playlist!”
Indie Rock Favorites 3/11/24 Jeroen said “What I like about the track is that the atmosphere is very pleasant to hear. Also, I like what you are singing about. Great work UniversalDice!
Indie Rock Discovery 3/10/24 3/10/24 Maarten said “I like the atmosphere of the track! Moreover, the lyrics resonate with me and the recording quality is on point. I will add your song to my playlist and I'm looking forward to future releases!”
Indie Rock Radar 3/10/24 Ruben said "The track has a nice atmosphere! Additionally, the content of the lyrics are great and the instrumental is of high quality. I will add your song UniversalDice!
The Best of Rock 3/9/24   Joe said “Beautiful instrumental lines and a great melody, voices in tune, synchronized and well interpreted, the song has a great sound identity, good mixing and mastering!”
Pause and Play 3/11/24 - new songs playlist

Neufutur Magazine
Posted on: March 1, 2023 Posted by: James McQuiston
Last Prayer has an insistent beat to it, linking together new wave with confident singer-songwriter fare (e.g. Richard Marx, Phil Collins). The depth that UniversalDice achieves here ensures that listeners will continue to find new twists and turns with subsequent plays. The song has enough of a nod of radio rock genres to play well there, but the dynamics established with the instrumental arrangements will titillagte serious music aficionados. Of particular note during Last Prayer has to be the intensity that the vocals achieve. They act in bold opposition to the more measured guitar, bass, and drums encountered on the track. 
Last Prayer

Indie Talk Podcast Announces 'All You Need Is Love' (Part I) (featuring UniversalDice)
February 2023
Celebrate the Month of Love with Indie Talk's 'All You Need Is Love' Radio Special, Featuring Love Songs by Amazing Independent Artists 

Celebrate the month of love with Indie Talk's ‘All You Need Is Love’ (Part I) Valentines Podcast Special. Indie Talk will feature love songs by independent artists from all over the world, in multiple genres including Americana, Adult Contemporary, Country, Folk, Instrumental, Jazz, Pop, R & B, Rap, Rock & more.  Hear love songs that cover a wide range of topics from love and loss, to romance and lasting love. Share, feel and express the love with Indie Talk! 

About Indie Talk 
Indie Talk is the podcast that shines a light on great independent artists from all over the world in every genre to help you discover great music that you won't find on mainstream radio.  Every segment of Indie Talk is filled with in-depth information about the artists and their songs. 

Artist Lineup 

Cynthia Basinet 
Patrick & Daniels 
Parmy Dhillon 
Allan Corby 
Kristi Jacques 
Phil Silva 
Musiq 4 Change
Peter Frank Santovito 
Funky Fresh 
The Al Ur Pal Project feat. The Asidors 
RonKat Spearman 

Neufutur Magazine, "Out of Many, One" by UniversalDice
By James McQuiston
UniversalDice’s Out of Many, One is a catchy rock effort that bends together Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg with late 1970s / early 1980s arena rock. The bit of distortion and fuzz that bubbles up at points on the single do well to join together the different sections encountered here. UniversalDice’s reverence to performances like Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne place the single into the broader corpus of rock, but there’s a uniqueness here that separates Out of Many, One from the rest of the tracks currently populating modern radio playlists. Give the single a spin (below) and let us know what you think.

Indie Discovery, Hidden Gems 2022 (Spotify playlist)

Hey! You're on this playlist because you're good. Thanks for being part of it. I listen to it every day! You can do the same to discover new artists. You are free to like the playlist and show it on your own spotify page, if you haven't already done so, it costs nothing and it helps us a lot. Good listening! 

Indie discovery, hidden gems 2022 (submit your new music) 

max gou · Playlist · 472 songs · 279 likes 

New Music Release Radar

Out of Many, One by UniversalDice takes us back to the 70’s
Review by Jacqueline Jax
Music Review: 

Out of Many, One by UniversalDice has strong nostalgic vibes and feels more like an experience than just a single. Music like this has a purpose to classic music fans but typically needs an album to feed the wolf. There’s a feeling of the 70’s here but instead of the early decade, this pulls influences from later years when the punk era was starting to come into play. Those gritty guitars, layered chambered vocal pushed back and compressed like Thin Lizzy, Free or Kiss. The energy is high with a very powerful rhythm that reminds me of the band 'The Undertones' without the claps (lol) but the chorus brings the song right around to a more resolved sound adding a nice balance. I love the harmonies but my favourite part is towards the end when the layers of drums, weeping guitars swirl around to complete the journey. There is a singing guitar that take centre stage for most of the single like I used to love in band like Foreigner. People just are not making this kind pop music anymore so it does have a special audience. I love it. 

UniversalDice- Out of Many, One 
Music Genre: indie alternative rock 
Vibe: intense, rocking, call to action, anthem 
Located in: Long Island, NY 
Sounds like: The Who, Springsteen, (not really!) 

About the artist..   This is a remix and remaster of the title track of our 3rd album, "Out of Many, One."  This was released in 2005, shortly after the ill-fated invasion of Iraq and the threat to truth and facts. Obviously, the song was far ahead of its time.  Musicians on the song are Bob Barcus, guitars, Ed Canova, bass, and Gerry Dantone, everything else.  Currently the band also features Walt Sargent and Vin Crici on keys.  

The band will be releasing their 5th full album, "misfit Memoirs" in 2023.  After 25 years, we are entitled to creating our Memoirs. 

Social Links & Website:

New Music Release Radar

"Last Prayer" by UniversalDice leans towards an 80’s nostalgic vibe 
Music Review: 

Review by Jacqueline Jax

Last Prayer’ leans towards an 80’s nostalgic vibe like something you may have heard from artists like bruce Springsteen with an instrumental solo that reflects the artists appreciation for greats like Pink Floyd. The song starts out as a mystery as it doesn’t immediately reveal its intensions. But as the song moves forward, you start to hear the strong influences and become engaged by the flow of the music. The music solo is powerful and demonstrates fine skills. Over all I was surprised by the track and ended up enjoying more than I had initially expected. If I were to recommend anything, it would be to ‘wait for it’. That might not be a fit for many playlists as it’s a slower start but the good stuff is there, it’s a song that is worth the time and patience. 

UniversalDice - Last Prayer 
Music Genre: indie alternative rock 
Vibe: intense, brooding 
Located in:  Long Island, NY 
Sounds like: Pink Floyd, John Lennon, (but not really)! 

Spotify: About the artist.. 
This single commemorates the 25th anniversary of the founding and first album release of the band. This is a remix and remaster of a song off our 1st album, "My Name is Thomas...", a rock opera.  The song is literally the lead character's last prayer and is a highlight of that album. The song was ahead of its time and is more relevant than ever. 

The musicians on this song are Bob Barcus, lead guitar, Sam Cimino, bass Gerry Dantone, acoustic guitar, percussion, vocals.  The song was written and produced by Gerry Dantone. UniversalDice has recorded 4 full albums and will be releasing their 5th album, "misfit Memoirs" in 2023.  After 25 years, we are entitled to create our "Memoirs."  Currently the band is Gerry Dantone, guitars, vocal; Bob Barcus, guitars; Ed Canova, bass; Walt Sargent, keys; Vin Crici, keys. 

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VENTS Magazine

 UniversalDice Releases 2 New Singles 

RJ Frometa
November 1, 2022

You may came into hearing UniversalDice’s new singles “Last Prayer” and “One of Many, One” cold. You won’t “leave” that way. Gerry Dantone, guitarist Bob Barcus, and bassist Sam Cimino team on this pair of songs to deliver musical performances capable of converting any serious music fan into a believer. Long Island has hosted scores of exemplary bands and musicians for scores of years and UniversalDice stand among their ranks. 

“Last Prayer” begins with an almost electric folk guitar strum, in some ways, but it’s far more modern than that. Perhaps it reveals the song’s demo form when Dandone originally laid it down with an acoustic guitar. Every musical element is in place from the outset as Dandone and the other musicians lead listeners through deeply personal pain and one man’s impassioned plea. The drums, Dandone on them, along with vocals, songwriting, and production among other sundry endeavors, set a perfect tone. 

Guitarist Bob Barcus, however, blows the song wide open near its end with a tough, gut-wrenching guitar. It never overpowers what came before but, instead, puts an emphatic exclamation point on the single. The careful hand each of the musician use to shape this track is in full evidence here as Barcus’ considered attack never shows a hint of overplaying. 

You won’t find any overplaying in the second single as well. “One of Many, One” starts off with more of a stride than the aforementioned song but, once again, these talented musicians temper their approach. It isn’t even close to steamrolling listening. Melding classic rock attributes with a modern approach sounds easier than it is when the goal is to emerge with something unique and full. 

They accomplish that here. The lyric puts the icing on the cake as Dantone fearlessly pours out his patriotic heart. It’s a song expressing his ideal of what the American experience should be in light of the then current Iraq war. The song’s title, also the title of the same album, hails from the United States’ original motto. 

Yet there’s no chest thumping or bloated music. Dantone’s decision to open the song with a military inspired snare pattern strikes an impactful note. It is not Thor’s hammer, however, bashing listeners into submission. Anyone looking for that sort of experience is advised to look elsewhere. Instead, it joins the other instruments in a seamless mosaic hitting all the critical points without ever bashing away. It heightens the song’s inherent drama. 

There’s drama aplenty here. Music, however, is an affirmative experience, as all arts are. Dantone is obviously in tune with that experience without ever allowing it to make him sound preachy or arrogant. “Last Prayer” and “One of Many, One” hail from the band’s debut 25 years ago and their third album of the same name six years later, respectively. Re-releases aren’t something band’s love to do, so when they do, pay attention. This is well worth paying attention because it’s music from the heart and head and there’s no stronger possible recommendation

Skope Magazine 

God bless Gerry Dantone and Universal Dice 

By Skope • November 2, 2022

He gives you faith that real rock and roll, NOT slam-banging raise-hell ruining thought-provoking rock with muscle, still happens. I need that. A lot of people do. 

The band’s new singles “Last Prayer” and “One Out of Many, One” aren’t necessarily new. They do, if nothing else, illustrate a point. Age matters too much to many music listeners. In our fast paced world, anything older than six months is confined to the trash can. Universal Dice’s latest singles, however, “Last Prayer” and “One of Many, One”, were initially released 25 and 18 years ago respectively. 

They haven’t dated. In fact, they are as vital as ever. In the case of “Last Prayer”, from the rock opera entitled My Name is Thomas…, Dantone’s character piece about a fallen priest searching for redemption within is poetry set to music. The arrangement is largely meditative in nature, big mid-tempo chords driving much of the piece. The drums, keyboards, and vocals are Dantone’s alone. 

He is an evocative singer able to be musical and emotive. He adopts the attitude of any great vocalist or actor seeking to embody the character they play. Dantone gets under the skin of his priest, writing from a first person perspective, and modulates each line treading through emotional and even possibly hopeful territory with confidence and skill. No “character” would sing this song if they didn’t have hope. 

Guitarist Bob Barcus and bassist Sam Cimino are the other players. Their performances are crucial to the song’s success, but it is Barcus who will grip many. His guitar solo in the song’s second half is moving, biting, and filled with deep blues. Barcus continues to shine during the second single as well. 

His presence is more pronounced during “One of Many, One”. Barcus fills the track with wonderful playing from the outset while Dantone delivers a clear, profound lyric that describes his feeling for America’s original national motto. This track, from the album of the same title, is born of disappointment. Written in response, however, to America’s disastrous wrecking of Iraq during their invasion and occupation, Dantone’s singing fills one with hope, however faint, that we may turn back the clock yet to time when the nation hewed more closely to its founding ideals. 

These are songs that are far from relics. They sing of human beings, pain, hope, and dreams of victory without rancor, justification, and cliché. Gerry Dantone, producer, multi-instrumental, songwriter, singer, is the heart of Universal Dice, but he’s ably assisted here by two longtime cohorts who understand and relate to his goals. “Last Prayer” and “One of Many, One” may not be truly “new”, but they are as capable of shaking your heart like they did upon their first release. If you have not heard this band, like me, these two songs may open the door to one of the best musical experiences you’ve had in recent memory. Universal Dice are far from finished and I will be coming back for more. 

Gwen Waggoner

Just Plain Folks Music Organization
October 30, 2022

Page · Musician/band 
UniversalDice, a Long Island based indie rock band featuring Gerry Dantone. 

Not only is it time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Long Island's indie alternative rock band UniversalDice, it's time to vote for UniversalDice as Long Island's BEST non-cover band in the annual Bethpage Federal Credit Union's Best of Long Island promotion! 
TO VOTE: Go to the Best of Long Island website or click on the picture below and vote for UniversalDice in the "band, non-cover" category. You can vote EVERYDAY. You may have to register to vote. It would mean a lot to us! 
All we can do is ask for your vote and we will try to provide the evidence that indeed we are the best original band in the area. See below or visit our website:

Mob York City


Nicole Killian 

October 2, 2022 

Gerry Dantone, UniversalDice 

How would you classify your music? 

We are an indie classic rock band, which, to me, means we can try anything.  We do not have to stay within any limits or boundaries, so all music avenues are available. 

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences? 

The Beatles, The Who, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Springsteen. 

What do you want fans to take from your music? 

I hope they learn or gain some insight into life, relate to the songs, and get some enjoyment from the music. 

How’s the music scene in your locale? 

The original music scene is next to non-existent on Long Island for bands. Singer-songwriters have places to play, however. In general, it is difficult for songwriters, rock or otherwise, to gain traction. 

When did you know you were destined for music? 

I don’t believe in destiny. I choose to make music because I enjoy it. I hope I’m good at it, but you never know for sure. For me to think otherwise would be overconfident.  Maybe when I sellout MSG, get a platinum album or win a Grammy I’ll know I was meant to be a musician!  Until then, I’ll always looking for positive reinforcement. 

What is the best concert you have been to? 

Pink Floyd, Muse, The Killers, Procol Harum, Paul McCartney, Springsteen, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, just too many to name. I’ve seen almost all the classic bands, and many were incredible.  I have to say that Muse is the best live band I know of right now. They are ridiculous. 

What do you like most about playing live? 

It’s great to see people appreciate songs they’ve never heard before!  That is great when that happens. It’s not easy. 

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

Our current releases are two singles to commemorate 25 years of UniversalDice, and we picked these, “Last Prayer” and “Out of Many, One,” because they were exceptional and are still remarkable cuts. Bob Barcus and I have put out almost 70 songs so far and we’ll be releasing a new original album in 2023, “misfit Memoirs” which is appropriate, since, after 25 years, we have a right to issue our memoirs! 

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

In the last year I’ve gotten more involved with piano, organ and string arrangements, and my vocals and harmonies are just a little more sophisticated. There is no limit to what you can learn in music.  It never ends. 

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 and why? 

I have no idea who would be good to work with in co-writing a song.  It would have to be someone I know and consider a friend and trust. Having dinner with Paul McCartney, Matt Bellamy, Bruce Springsteen, and many more would probably be cool because they seem like good people. That would be the key thing.  We could talk songwriting. 

What’s next for you? 

Lead guitarist Bob Barcus and I have put out almost 70 songs so far and we’ll be releasing a new original album in 2023, “misfit Memoirs” which is appropriate since, after 25 years, we have a right to issue our memoirs!  Joining us will be Ed Canova on bass, Vin Crici on piano, and Walt Sargent on keyboards. When you’re an aspiring band, you can’t just settle. You must go all out, the best you know how. 




End of Interview 

Pop Icon Magazine

October 22, 2022 

UniversalDice Releases Two New Singles 

ByTrace Whittaker 

UniversalDice’s journey has carried the band through three albums and individual long careers that cut through the essence of American music. Songwriter, musician, producer, mixer and band leader Gerry Dantone works alongside an equally capable crew. The talents of Bob Barcus, Ed Canova, Vin Crici,, Sam Cimino, Tom Beckner, and other important contributors fashion modern classic rock that does not simply attempt to knock you back into your seat, but reaches for higher ambitions. 


The band’s re-release of two older songs, “Out of Many, One” and “Last Prayer”, isn’t a sign of creative stasis. It is a sign of a band whose material enjoys continued relevance long past its initial release. The first of the two older tracks “Out of Many, One” has a near magisterial sound that nevertheless retains genuine rock power. The pomp and spectacle of the arrangement, however, does not strike listeners as bloated. Instead, Universal Dice, specifically Dantone, harness a fully realized vision that is musical, thoughtful, yet dramatic. 

The lyrics are poetic without ever being pretentious. Dantone’s impassioned delivery further elevates the words and the swirl of musical colors invoked by his voice and the production equals the music. “Last Prayer”, the second single, is different, but no less involving. It has a bit more of a meditative tone, as reflected in its lyrics. It does not lack for power, however. 

UniversalDice’s ability to address serious themes such as the United States’ involvement in the Iraqi War sets them apart. That long, absurd conflict finds painful expression in “One of Many, One” as Dantone’s lyrics practically grieve for America’s long since thwarted idealism. Dantone and the band pull no punches. 

The haunted qualities of “Last Prayer” are difficult to ignore. It never sounds stilted, however, or threatens to descend into melodrama. Dantone and his cohorts wring every ounce of emotion inherent in the piece with particularly effective guitar work help accentuate the aforementioned tone. UniversalDice are mainstays of the East Coast music scene reaching back over two decades and poised to release their fifth album. 

It’s these two tracks that matter right now, however. They serve as reminders for newcomers and longtime fans alike that the band has been playing at a high level since they first formed. There is no sign that will not continue. Gerry Dantone and the revolving cast of top flight musicians who have filled the ranks of UniversalDice since its founding are invigorated artists and kickass musicians who will continue to break new borders and push their musical ambitions to the next level. 

First time listeners to the band and longtime admirers will greet these two singles in different ways. For the former, it will be revelatory. For the latter, it will be reacquainting themselves with a longtime friend. UniversalDice’s “Last Prayer” and “One of Many, One” are fine modern rock and extraordinary reminders of topical songwriting’s enduring power. These songs and the band’s music will not soon fade, so check them out today. 

Trace Whittaker

The Hollywood Digest

OCTOBER 22, 2022 



If you haven’t heard of UniversalDice, the band’s new singles “One of Many, One” and “Last Prayer” is an excellent place to acquaint yourself with this unique outfit. Gerry Dantone is connected with his art in a way few musicians are because his vision takes in such a large canvas. Dantone’s songwriting doesn’t seek to write about the usual assortment of popular music subjects such as love songs, party tracks, or other clichéd subject matter. Furthermore, he has a near-holistic view of music’s power – it doesn’t have the power to merely make people move, it can prompt thought, deep thought, and even healing. 


He’s assembled the right musicians to help bring that vision to fruition. The players on both “One of Many, One” and “Last Prayer” aren’t simply experienced session men recruited for a project they perform skillfully but without passion. Instead, they are fully invested talents aiding in the creation and execution of this material. The first track, “Last Prayer”, begins with an electric guitar jangle pushing at a tempered pace. The vocals open up a tortured but ultimately melancholy lyric that has a definite subject but leaves itself open to interpretation. 

It’s because of Dantone’s lyric. He knows how to lay out a lyric in such a way that it conveys his intentions while never slamming the door on a listener’s take. The song’s culminating guitar solo, however, stands tallest. It’s a vivid punctuation point on the track without ever overshadowing what precedes it. 

The second single “One, Only One” grapples with a much different subject. Penned in the early years of the 21st century when the United States invaded Iraq, Dantone paints a dark and memorable picture of disappointment in something he clearly holds close to his heart – his vision for America’s promise. It’s a song of betrayal. Given the subject matter, it isn’t difficult to believe that the song is much stormier and intense than its admittedly fine predecessor. 

It lives up to that belief. The lyrics, however, provide a twist. There isn’t wild-eyed anger over America’s involvement or musical bluster. Instead, Dantone couches his words in hope as the song’s title, our nation’s original motto, still holds the capacity to inspire his belief. The lines are tight, deceptively simple, and direct. You’ll find no wasted words. 

Nor will you find any wasted notes in the music. It opens with a military-style snare roll that Universal Dice maintain and much more assertive electric guitar than we heard in the aforementioned tune, save for the solo. The guitar’s assertiveness, however, never undercuts the lyricism we hear. Dantone’s vocal, as well, is outstanding. Both singles reflect his immense skill as a vocalist but this is particularly stellar as he manages to communicate genuine joy that contrasts well against the song’s subtext. 

It’s stunning how well these songs have held up since their initial release years ago. “Last Prayer” is a quarter century old, first seeing release on the band’s debut album, a rock opera entitled My Name is Thomas… and the second single is the title cut from their 3rd album. It’s not often such old tracks remain as vital so far on. We can fully expect that the band’s next album will pack every bit as much power, thought, and passion. 

Garth Thomas

Indie Music Reviews  

October 23, 2022 

“One of Many, One” and “Last Prayer” by UniversalDice 

“One of Many, One” and “Last Prayer” are two singles from the East Coast band Universal Dice. Gerry Dantone’s band project has featured an assortment of musicians playing alongside Dantone, but these two singles have him working with lead guitarist Bob Barcus and bassist Sam Cimino. Dantone, however, handles the drums, secondary guitar work, production, songwriting, and vocals. It’s a steep work load for even the best musicians, but Dantone, like all the great ones, sounds like he isn’t breaking a sweat. 

The two singles are, respectively, a little under twenty years old and the second, “Last Prayer”, dates back 25 years. “Last Prayer” hails from the band’s debut, a rock opera entitled My Name Is Thomas…and should transfix anyone who appreciates storytelling and character-driven rock music. Some of the band’s motivation for re-releasing these tracks is to set the stage for their forthcoming fifth album, reminding listeners of their material’s timelessness, but there’s another reason. 

UniversalDice wants this music to be heard. It speaks to the human condition, the eternal human condition, of men and women struggling, sometimes in vain, to find safe harbor in life. Bob Barcus’ towering guitar solo in the track delivers the goods and connects with that aforementioned vision. “One of Many, One” likewise does so. The route taken, however, is different. It has a much wider sound than its predecessor markedly different in character. 

Where the former track opens with a patient yet atmosphere guitar work, Barcus is rhapsodizing with his six-string from the outset. Guitar pyrotechnics in an Universal Dice song are far different than the standard “Guitar Hero” baloney we’ve all subjected ourselves too at one time or another. Dantone’s voice, likewise, revels in artistry. His intense rendering of a vision for America that is inclusive, benevolent, and consistent flies in the face of its context, but that’s the point. 

Dantone uses the original motto of the country as a launching pad for a virtual call to arms, an anthem-like portrayal of ideal national virtues. Don’t feat that it’s pretentious or heavy handed. It’s impassioned, but Dantone is careful to never slip into sappy melodrama and pares his lines down to economical length. He’s an experienced lyricist and never steps wrong during the course of writing this song. The drumming opening the track strikes the right note. 

The little drummer boy rolls we hear are clear and full of snap. Dantone’s sharp production instincts are vividly illustrated by the song without ever challenging the other instruments for supremacy in the song arrangement. Some might call re-releases of such old material as a staying action, the sign of a floundering band attempting to hang on. 

It’s far from that. So far. It’s a forceful yet musical recall of humans in peril that everyone needs to hear because these tracks are as relevant as ever. Dantone and his collaborators bring the full-force of their creativity to bear on this work without pushing listeners into hackneyed or overwrought waters. It helps make “Last Prayer” and “One of Many, One” one of the best listening experiences you may have this year. 

Zachary Rush

Melody Maker

Universal Dice Release “Last Prayer / Out Of Many, One” 

October 15, 2022 by Chadwick Easton 0 Comments 

We’re getting to the point where a lot of our favorite creatives are going to start releasing anniversary sets and retrospectives to things we thought just got released last week; there’s no way so-and-so is THAT old, right? Unfortunately, Green Day’s American Idiot is almost twenty years old, Nirvana broke up almost thirty years ago, and all of your favorite songs, artists, and albums are about three times as old as you think they are. That’s okay, though, because that just means we get collector’s editions and remasters, and everything is just better versions of what we already had, right? 


Universal Dice is hopping on the remaster train, bringing fans two “new” singles from the past. Their first re-release is coming as “Last Prayer,” a track originally from 1997 off of their album My Name Is Thomas… The track features lyrics about religious conflict and comes as part of the album’s rock opera narrative, based around the lead character, a priest, who realizes he has lost his faith after a drunk driver caused the death of his brother, a new father. It’s an intense track but the remastering process is phenomenal and the song feels like new. There’s a definite awareness of the art of mastering a song from the ‘90s, and the charm of the decade is thankfully never scrubbed away. 

The second remaster and re-release, “Out of Many, One,” arrives with “Last Prayer.” It’s a song drawn from a slightly later period in the band’s career and discusses military conflict around 2004. It’s not a song that feels tethered to the year in the slightest as it is more focused on uniting lost souls than condemning wars and politicians. “If you feel the pain that hope is gone, and to make it right will take too long; don’t be afraid to spend the time, ‘cause I got your back if you got mine. Out of many, one.” It’s a simple track with a huge message that finds its re-release coming at a time when many will need to hear it. It’s not a song you’d expect to find in re-releases but there’s something impressive about taking something so tied to a place and time and making it feel like something altogether new and fresh. 

It’s a weird sensation acknowledging that the passage of time is an immovable force, but the use of tunes to keep us sane and dancing our way into old age is about as good of a coping mechanism as we can hope for. Fun re-releases and musical anniversaries like Universal Dice’s certainly help, and the music helps all the more. Twenty-five years is no small feat, and most bands seem to know that! There are many groups that implode at a decade, with seldom few lucky enough to make it to a quarter of a century. Universal Dice is a band that feels like they count their blessings daily, and more power to them; they’re incredibly talented, and they’re still got it going on where it counts! Great music when it was released, great music twenty-five years later. That’s how you know you’ve made it as a band. 

Chadwick Easton 



October 14, 2022 


Nicole Killian 

When it comes to releasing music as part of a career retrospective, there aren’t many better times to do it than at the 25th anniversary! For Universal Dice, the landmark year has finally arrived and they’re celebrating the age of the band with re-releases of two of their best tracks, “Last Prayer” and “Out Of Many, One.” With the former being pulled from their first album and the latter coming a few years later, the dynamic between the two songs traces a great deal of change between the band’s sound and ever-growing artistic talent. Now being released again to the public years later, the attention being called to such landmark works has proven Universal Dice to have aged like a fine wine. 


“Last Prayer,” drawn from Universal Dice’s debut album My Name Is Thomas…, operates as a pivotal track within the album’s concept album structure. It’s a piece of a larger rock opera, and its heavy lyrics about the loss of faith and the end of compromise come at a pivotal moment in the album’s narrative arc. It’s a powerful piece to revisit years later and still carries a massive weight with it. Twenty-five years later and the track can deliver a blow with its lyrics now harder than it might have been able to accomplish in 1997. 

“Out Of Many, One” is a song that was originally written in light of the start of the Iraq War, more specifically based around the United States’ fumbled Invasion of Iraq; in 2004, the song was seen as something out of left field but in hindsight, the lyrics condemning the country’s actions and calling for accountability have found a home in modern society. It’s eerie how prescient Gerry Dantone’s songwriting has been, but these two specific examples couldn’t be any more obvious. 

Tying these two tracks together as the first bursts of an impending re-release from Universal Dice, there’s something truly outstanding about the duality. Both songs have a timeless message at their cores, and while there are still those out there that disagree with the songs’ messages, they’re a loud and extremely vocal minority. For Universal Dice to have been ahead of the curve and on the right side of history, it’s a pretty outstanding feat and a show of great character. Bringing both songs back into the limelight is a great way to showcase what it is that makes them such a great band! 

With their upcoming album full of new songs still on its way, a trip back down memory lane seemed earned for Universal Dice. Certainly, after twenty-five years, there’s a reason for celebration and with a discography as rich as theirs, plenty to celebrate. This re-release strategy will undoubtedly reach old fans and new fans alike and bring in hype for what’s still to come with the impending Misfit Memoirs, due out in early 2023. For now, however, we’re lucky to have a band as timeless and omniscient as Universal Dice doing their part and keeping rock alive. Dig into what Universal Dice has to offer and get ready to see what they have planned next! 

Nicole Killian


Posted on October 14, 2022 by mindymccall in Music, Reviews // 0 Comments 

Universal Dice Release “Last Prayer / Out Of Many, One” 

It’s extremely seldom for bands to make it to ten years as part of a group, let alone twenty-five, but for ‘90s rockers Universal Dice, you’d think it was a walk in the park. Starting their trek into music with a concept album rock opera of all things, they seemed to be calling their shot fairly early on. Twenty-five years later, here they are, still rocking out — and now they’re releasing some of their favorite tracks again for a new generation as part of their 25th-anniversary extravaganza! Two tracks, “Last Prayer” and “Out of Many, One” are seeing themselves initiated in a part of a re-release package to celebrate the band’s landmark year. 


“Last Prayer” is a fan favorite, undoubtedly, and it’s a ballad that has only grown more beloved over time. Featuring lyrics that feel far more modern than their late ‘90s roots would have you believe, there’s a distinct crisis of faith at the song’s core. Hearing it for the first time in 2022, audiences will have almost no distinction between what the song was originally meant to tackle versus what it’s about in today’s ever-changing political sphere. 

The truth is, society hasn’t grown as much as we think it has and the timeless nature of a song such as “Last Prayer” is a warning sign to current and future generations. Beyond the lyrics, the track is a powerful song in its instrumental, too; crisp guitar complements lead singer Gerry Dantone’s powerful vocals, and the percussion is of its time but retro in this new modern light. The nostalgia for the crisp simplicity of 1990s production is a helluva drug, but Universal Dice has it in spades! 

The chaser, “Out of Many, One,” is a brilliant protest song released in reaction to the Invasion of Iraq and the lack of foresight and emotion that brought everything to such a pointless head. At almost twenty years old, there’s a sense of irony similar to the previously mentioned “Last Prayer” as the song’s subject still feels fresh and eternal. It’s a bizarre feeling, listening to music from the past and relating to it with such profound emotions, but Dantone knew what he was on about and the band has doubled down on their beliefs by revisiting both singles years and years later. 

The quality of the band’s remasters is a massive upgrade, bringing the songs into the 21st century with a brand-new sheen and direction. Overall, there’s quite a lot of ground that’s been covered within the re-release and remastering of these tracks, and with a new album on the way, Universal Dice seems to be amping up for a fantastic 2023. If the band decides to remaster and re-release any other tracks, that’s yet to be determined, but I can imagine it’s in the works if these two singles do well. It would be interesting to see the band fully re-record some of their old tracks as a way to bring things into the present day, but the remastering is enough of an upgrade that old and new fans should have their appetites sated.



October 2022  

Universal Dice “Last Prayer” and “Out of Many, One” (SINGLES) 

The world was a different place five years ago. Can you even remember how it was twenty-five years ago? It was different and yet… mostly the same. Except for the parts that were super different, right? For acclaimed band Universal Dice, they were just getting their start with their debut album “My Name Is Thomas…”, a one-of-a-kind rock opera album full of intense ballads, impressive instrumentals and vocals, and way more charisma than a first-time album ought to have. 

It was an impressive start and the past twenty-five years have only showcased their talents even more. Hitting twenty-five years as a band is a big deal, however, and Universal Dice wanted to do something to acknowledge and celebrate their growth as artists and their wealth of previous releases, which is why they’re coming out with two new masters of previously released tracks “Last Prayer” and “Out of Many, One.” 


“Last Prayer,” off of the aforementioned My Name Is Thomas… sees the band tackling religion and the thorns that come with it; the new master is a sleek remodel of a classic track that fans love, and there’s only more to love with the musical facelift. The song’s immortal message rings true, and the production has only improved in scope and quality since its original release in 1997. “Out of Many, One” is a song from a little later in the band’s lifespan but it still comes in at about twenty years old — the anti-war protest song was written in response to the American-Iraq conflict and its lack of information in regards to most American citizens. The ageless factor of this song feels as relevant now as it did in 2004, too, and it’s no wonder these two tracks are finding new life in the remasters and re-releases. 

Universal Dice is remastering the tracks in preparation for their upcoming new album Misfit Memoirs, due out in early 2023, but the excuse to celebrate a quarter century around the sun as a band is as good an excuse as any other; the way the band’s songs feel relevant despite the release year is a powerful message, and the songs will assuredly find new life with the touched-up versions of themselves hitting streaming services. The concept of remastering entire albums could be an idea worth pursuing, but it’s a lot of work and the band is more than likely waiting to see how these singles perform before they chase a full album’s worth of remasters. 

“Last Prayer” and “Out Of Many, One” are stellar tracks to return to, or they’re great tracks to start you out on your journey when it comes to Universal Dice. There’s plenty of time to use them as leaping-in points for whatever’s on the horizon and revisiting past albums has never sounded so good (literally)! For now, fans will be satisfied regardless of the era, as these songs have gone to prove that good music is timeless and great production can always be tweaked and made better. Universal Dice is proving that a great band can always have a lasting impression, no matter the year, technology, or mastering quality. 

Mark Druery


October 2022


Revisiting a 25-year career by remastering and re-releasing two tracks, one of which is a rock ballad from a rock opera born out of the late ‘90s focused on the subject of religious trauma… UniversalDice is not messing around. Hot on the pre-release of their impending new studio album Misfit Memoirs, UniversalDice is celebrating 25 years as a band by revisiting, remastering, and re-releasing two of their most iconic tracks. “Last Prayer,” the previously mentioned rock opera ballad,” and “Out Of Many, One,” a song aimed at the Bush administration in light of the Iraq War, both songs could very well feel out of place in 2022. Unfortunately for the world, and yet fortunately for UniversalDice and their timeless art, things haven’t progressed as much as we’d like to think. 


“Last Prayer” is a rollicking rock anthem that could have been at home on a typical rock album, but the fact that it’s a piece of a rock opera makes the track that much cooler, in my opinion. The last substantial rock opera that I can remember was My Chemical Romance’s 2006 smash hit The Black Parade, so the public seems to be dealing with a bit of a rock opera vacuum lately. Off of the 1997 album My Name Is Thomas…, “Last Prayer” predates even Green Day’s American Idiot in terms of seniority— it’s an impressive track that newcomers to the band will undoubtedly be drawn to. The mix of sharp vocals, relevant lyrics, and crisp production is enough to draw incurious onlookers alone, but it all comes together in a great mix of impressive rock that feels both tied to the ‘90s and yet modern all at once. 

“Out Of Many, One” is an intriguing curio of a bygone era, too; the Bush administration was such a strong bubble and inspired some incredible protest rock (as well as other genres), and it’s interesting seeing a song react to such a pointed period almost twenty years later. The worst part is that there are still pointless military conflicts, terrible world leaders, and a universal divide penetrating modern society, so the song’s heartfelt lyrics of coming together and uniting feel as necessary now as they did back when it was first released. 

The brilliant decision to revisit a career full of songs as fresh and unique as UniversalDice’s has inspired me to check out their discography in full, and these songs are diverse and engrossing enough that I’m surely not going to be the only one. Lead singer/songwriter Gerry Dantone is a smart man, coming back to the classics all these years later, and the fans will undoubtedly take notice when it comes time to prepare for the new record. They say you can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you’ve been, and UniversalDice is unafraid to take a few steps back and reminisce. It’s an admirable venture to see a band embark upon, and I hope it pays off and brings a ton of new ears to Misfit Memoirs! 



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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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    -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: