Michael Cullen's "True Believer" Rocks Noirstalgic

Michael Cullen True Believer v 2.0 4PAN1TImagine that scene from a movie where a real badass is slow walking away from an explosion, unflinching, got that? Okay, now imagine that it’s Nick Cave or even Johnny Cash.

Music from either would suffice and overall be quite fitting. But now that I’m thinking about writing that scene — and starting a fundraiser to make that happen — my pick for score would be Michael Cullen’s True Believer album.

As a lover of cinema, I’m into anything that can conjure up that kind of imagery, in case you need to punch something up and believe me, there’s stuff out there that seems to go out of it’s way to not do that.

Yes, you’d think music by nature would already be rather dramatic to add to the illusion but True Believer turns the drama up significantly, setting itself immediately apart from the standard.

True Believer is a stylish album which establishes its influences from the first track with the name of Leonard Cohen, which to me is a big sell and as I’ve never admitted on here but now will; my first exposure to Cohen was with The Future from my dad’s CD collection when I was a teenager.

And that album changed my life back then, taking me to loungy smoke-filled places with mysterious surly people before I was old enough to physically go to those places.

The catchy single, Cha Cha Cha D’Amour is obviously selected for being one of the strongest tracks on the entire album, next to I Never Knew which taps into a track of my past from one of the best albums ever made, Pulp’s This Is Hardcore.

But you can’t ignore the ones in the background such as Broken Horses, which is about as poppy a standard as you’ll get on this entire album, or even the second track Believer, the dark haired Betty in that nighttime lounge. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a knife hidden in her stocking.

Allow me to show off some of my music knowledge a bit with the comparison to another album I grew up on, Dave Vanian and The Phantom Chords, which is more like a collection of singles than a full concept album.

Michael Cullen True Believer Recording Session at Spacejunk III

Michael Cullen True Believer Recording Session at Spacejunk III

That’s the only thing that’s a little off about this release for me because rather than treat these like separate tracks, I would have gone all the way with blending tracks to transition into each one differently, building a narrative that’s more like the film I’m dying to see.

It’s hard to avoid the obvious, which is that Cullen runs with the assumed pack of gothlings, which from my experience borders on the geek without any hints that he does and now you know where I come from.

There’s nothing off-base about the track Nothing Special nor even what I believe to be deep cut filler such as Damaged, which is still salvageable as it succeeds in putting me into a trance-like state, which would greatly benefit from the transition I referred to earlier, making the entire album a smoky cigar-like blend of dark tales about deception and dressing up for the last stand.

This album is like a slow burn. And not the kind you get from one of those cheap plugs cranks smoke in spaghetti westerns if they weren’t Clint Eastwood, because you get a longer lasting buzz from many of these songs, which is another way to say there are hooks.

I’m satisfied with the fact that most of these songs are memorable and for the ones that aren’t, they still give to the comfortable allure of the album, which lingers long after a few listens, another smoking reference.

Look, Michael Cullen is a veteran musician and knows what he wants so this album isn’t lacking in much. I’ve recently been spending some time in my old haunts of a local music scene from the 90’s which is perhaps a reason why I’ve grown to enjoy this album, now on my third listen, because of its nostalgic effects, which is not accidental as he did record this album on tape. A few steps back from digital and a step forward in making the old new again and the result is evergreen.

Aside from


Michael Cullen is also on




and he’s even got his own page! Whaaaaaa!?

*Grammar/spelling errors fixed (9:18 PM CST – 09/03/2015)

2 thoughts on “Michael Cullen's "True Believer" Rocks Noirstalgic

    • Thanks Stewart. Michael Cullen is great! I haven’t stopped listening to that thing since! Tune into my internet radio show as I’ll be playing some of his tracks and even (wink wink) have a interview with the man himself!


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