Leftover Cuties – Game Called Life Album RIew

Recently, I was listening to a Leftover Cuties track when my mother, who barely knows anything about modern music, commented that the track was reminiscent of music from “the past.” That blanket statement that might seem rather uninformative initially, but musically disinclined as she is, my mother was quite correct on her assertion. Leftover Cuties immediately bring to mind vintage fashion and jazz clubs circa the ’40s and ’50s. Their sound is a revitalized take on music from a time that seems more distant than it is — a time when artists like Billie Holiday and Etta James roamed the musical streets.

The four-piece band’s latest disc, Game Called Life, is a charming five track EP that pulls from the past and reminds the public of the great music they’ve forgotten while moving into the 21st century. At the heart of this sound is the sultry voice of Shirli McAllen, backed by the harmonies of Ruthie Garibay. An underlying blend of ukulele, harmonica, whistle, bass, and light percussion by Austin Nicholsen and Stuart Johnson guarantee a sense of class and playfulness to even the most desperate of Leftover Cuties’ tracks.

Having just played their first show in late 2008, the band is anticipating the release of a full-length in late 2009. If promoted correctly, they could make some serious waves. They’ve developed a sound that seems like much more than just a flash in the pan, and they’ve got an elegant aesthetic to match. Akin to how bands like DeVotchKa and Gogol Bordello brought gypsy punk to the indie rock masses, a band like Leftover Cuties could start a similar movement, by reminding the indie rock masses of the overlooked jazzy greatness of the near past.


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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