31st March, 2014


Michael Cullen Love Transmitter (2012)

by Six Foot Pianist on March 31 2014

Michael Cullen is a veteran of the Australian circuit, having cut his teeth on the Sydney music scene in the early ’90s with guitar-driven three-piece The Hardheads. When The Hardheads morphed into Watershed in 1995, they recruited legendary drummer Tim Powles (The Divinyls, Angry Anderson) on sticks, and this kicked off an artistic collaboration between Cullen and Powles that has now been going strong for twenty years.

At the turn of the century, Cullen and Powles worked together on a record called Love Transmitter and the album has recently been re-issued and re-mastered. Resonating with moody melancholia and a strange, dark beauty, Love Transmitter is a reverb-drenched, atmospheric slice of synth pop that explores both the nature of love, and the nature of love gone wrong.

Cullen clearly admires the gravelly, cowboy vocals of artists such as Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Tom Waits, his sleazy baritone infusing every song with a haunting, quasi-gothic quality. And underneath his rich and powerful voice, crunchy drums and oceanic guitar parts combine to create a swirling, gnashing wall of sound.

Album highlights include the swaggering, bass riff-led “Spill” (“You think you’re different honey? The world’s full of girls like you”), the infectious “One Is Still My Number” and confrontational album opener “Do You Believe?”. Cullen’s distinctive and uncomprising vocal will no doubt turn off some listeners, but fans of theatrical New Wave should find plenty to get excited about here.

Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars

read the original review here


Review Fix

Michael Cullen: ‘Love Transmitter’ Review: Moody Rock

by Patrick Hickey Jr. on March 19 2014

Heavy on the heartbreak, self-reflection and extra noir, Michael Cullen’s new album, “Love Transmitter” is the type of album best played in a Greenwich Village dive bar or on the Walkman of the goth chick from “The Breakfast Club.”

Like Ally Sheedy herself, it’s either hit or miss. Even though a few songs showcase the lyrical ability and vocal talent Cullen has, most if the time he sounds like a venting 20-something, as repetitive tracks and his sometimes over the top voice are too cumbersome for your ears to carry.

Even considering the often mellow retrospectives most of the tracks are, Cullen’s storytelling prowess isn’t as consistent as it should be.

The sound, for the most part, is the type fans of bands the likes of Toad the Wet Sprocket and Crowded House will dig. There’s even a hint of The Bravery in his sound. Solid guitar work sets the scene and nearly every track features smooth drum work, courtesy of legend TIm Powles. Even the lyrics are smooth- “Tidal Waves,” at times sounds like poetry with the mention of showers and African flowers.

But where those aforementioned bands had one of a kind frontmen, Cullen’s voice, although it grows on you and has a deep resonance, isn’t as catchy as it needs to be. His range is at times is impressive, but he never feels like he’s exerting himself. In “All Used Up,” Cullen isn’t able to connect with the lyrics and as a result it sounds like he’s simply toying around. In “Hey Sister,” Cullen does what he does for a good portion of the album, this half cool speak, half singing, that ultimately grows tiresome.

On the album’s title track however, Cullen sings, like holding notes, real singing- and puts his hand inside his chest and pulls something out. Between the solid riff and Cullen’s lyrics, this is more along the lines of what this guy is capable of.

There’s nothing wrong with moody tunes, especially when they’re emotional enough for the listener to feel every thorn in the singer’s heart. Cullen is only able to succeed at this endeavour once or twice on the album, but when he does, the payoff is worth it. The rest of the time, it just feels like he’s trying to be cool.

In the end, Cullen doesn’t have to try. He just needs a producer that can help him harness what’s already there.

read the original review here



Michael Cullen – Love Transmitter

by Mart Kawaii on March 11 2014

For the fans of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen I recommend to check Australian singer/songwriter Michael Cullen, who just re-issued and re-mastered his classic record “Love Transmitter”. The album was released for the first time in 2002 and produced by Tim Powles of The Church.

The opening track “Do you believe” sets a romantic melancholy mood, soon moved by one of my favorites “Tidal Wave”. The following “All Used Up” builds beautiful tension with tinkling guitar riffs. Another classic post-punk track that deserves attention is “Transmission” – very melodic and catchy.

I can’t miss “Spill” – a song I like very much and which recalls a hybrid between Nick Cave in “Alice Watching” and some early Morphine songs in my mind.

A key element to the record are the casual, but nicely fitting drums by Tim Powles, which combined with a feedback drenched guitar and Michael’s resonant baritone vocal bring out a romantic, yet dark hybrid. The two musicians have been collaborating for nearly 20 years, back from the times when Michael was in guitar driven “almost punk” band The Hardheads, later renamed Watershed.

We can hear Tim Powles’ from the cult band The Church influence on the record.

Love Transmitter is definitely a must hear – no accident that in 2011 it was named in the top twenty Australian albums by music blog Tomatrax . Michael and Tim are currently working on a series of recordings which will form Michael’s next album.

read the original review here


Listen Hear

Album Review: Michael Cullen’s Love Transmitter

by Ryan Robinson on March 8 2014 also posted in Mediocrity is the New Genius

For Fans Of: Joy Division, The National, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Interpol

Heartbreaks are easily spotted when sung in a baritone. Matt Berninger and Ian Curtis have proven this theory time and time again. Both Joy Division and The National cover a lot of topics in their musical discographies, but isolation, loneliness, and heartbreak are the reoccurring theme. Michael Cullen is another name to add to the list, with a title that rolls of the tip of the tongue. The Australian singer-songwriter brings aboard his New Order style synthpop and combines it with a bleak outlook on personal topics. It’s a great way to have an insider view on the intimate topics that Cullen is expressing.

Although his album, Love Transmitter, was originally released in 2012, it takes new life with a remastered copy after critical acclaim in his home country. Heralding itself with a terrible album cover (don’t judge it), it opens with the wonderfully titled, “Do You Believe?”, which had me thinking he was covering a Flaming Lips track. This is the complete opposite. His apparent love for the boiling drum beats that grind out the entire song is shown here. It lays the blueprint for the wonderfully crafted tune. The sharp, but sad synth keys trickle like icicles into Cullen’s crooning voice.

The song is followed by a shift in pace with “Tidal Wave”, which caught me off guard with how low Cullen’s voice can reach. He pulls out his darkest ego and punishes the listener with a wispy side until he reaches the chorus. Lyrically, the song is pretty bland, but the striking, Interpol style guitars are incredible. “All Used Up” seems to have soft, blast-beats opening the track, which works it’s way into a steady downward spiral of noise. Cullen finds ways to take miserable noise and transform it into a memorable tune that I find myself falling back too.

It’s no wonder this album has won many accolades with the indie community in Australia. Michael Cullen and fellow musician, Tim Powles, control space like it’s in the palm of their hand. They shift from an in-your-face bruiser of a song into a soft and somber tune like, “Hey Sister”. Every shift in keys present a new emotion that only music presents. Arms spread wide, and eyes closed, this is how the track is supposed to be listened too. “Transmission”, which isn’t a Joy Division cover, seems appropriately titled due to the related sound to the band. I find that when Cullen goes for the high notes, it flows better with the spashing guitar and brittle drums. His music has a very deep sound and the handshakes of approval should go to Tim Powles’ help with instrumentation. The duo just kills it as musicians.

What makes my job incredible is when I’m presented with musicians like this that people need to hear. Love Transmitter is a find that makes me smile, even when the dark theme drains any happiness from my head. It’s knowing that I’m only going to enjoy every sound on this album. Combining the Gothic tones on “Chinese Hammer”, and the spoken word sections on “Spill”, Michael Cullen transitions ahead and keeps this ride entertaining.

Then there’s, “Professional Entertainers”, which is the best song I’ve heard in ages. It’s contrasting joyful tones and brutally depressing lyrics keeps me pressing repeat. Perfectly timed at just under three minutes, this is a song that needs to rock the airwaves. “One Is Still My Number” is the one track that I couldn’t dig on my first listen. It felt too thrown together and tacky. When it drives into the chorus, that’s when I was convinced that I enjoyed it. It’s the best song-writing on the album though. Michael Cullen shines as a song-writer and musician. His ability to stay ahead of the curve and keep the 80′s goth rock stylish really takes talent (Have you seen Robert Smith lately?). Love Transmitter is an album that requires a setting. It requires and mindset that brings out the worst, but it demands the listener to open up their mind. What it provides is a shoulder to lay on, with 10 solemn stories to hear while the tear-ducts are worked to death. It’s the best sadness I’ve ever felt.

read the original review here and here



CD Review: Michael Cullen – Love Transmitter (Reissue)

Back in 2002, Michael Cullen, former front man of The Hardheads and Watershed, released his debut solo album. Ten years on the album has been remastered and re-released in a shiny new digi-pack. This is good news as the album was easily one of the most underrated to have arrived in the noughties. The mix of dense sounds, beautiful melodies and sharp witted words made for an absolutely sensational long player. The re-release of the album allows those that missed it first time round a second chance to discover its beauty.

On this release there are lots of little tweaks to the sound here and there to give the music a little more atmosphere. At the same time the passion and emotion that was exerted in the previous version is still here in its dark and gloomy glory!

This record was something of a departure from the loud and roaring sounds of the former garage rock bands. As his press release put it, the album is a “red wine soaked magic pudding of a record, consisting of equal parts dark beautiful melody, seamless ensemble musicianship and velvet voiced seduction!” What wasn’t lacking however was the raw passion and emotion that allows his previous bands to charge ahead. This time round, however, it was displayed in a more subdued fashion.

The album opens with the slow moody sounds of Do you believe. There chilling vibes flow through in a subtle but intense way to create a dark atmospheric sound scape.

Tidal Wave is a ballad that gradually becomes chaotic. There are some sharp lyrics, the best example being the opening line “love is an ocean, why don’t you get wet”.

All used up is a very dark and gloomy tune looking at despair and what could have been. Mr Cullen uses some interesting effects on his vocals to create a chilling echo sound. Overall this is a brilliant piece of work that consists of dense sounds and beautiful melodies.

Transmission is the major highlight to the album! The fast energetic vibe paired with the deep dark atmospheric undertones create a chaotic vibe that is contained within some beautifully crafted tunes. The music alone creates vivid imagery while the cleverly crafted lyrics add the story in.

Chinese Hammer sounds like a darker version of Frank Sinatra. The mix of Joy Division-esq drums and wailing organs produces a massive unnerving atmosphere.

Professional entertainers is a faster almost poppy offering. However any ounce of upbeat poppiness in the music is more than offset by the deep dark and dryly witty lyrics.

One is still my number sounds like post punk crossed with rhythm and blues, the end result is both unique and infectious. This is led my a solid vocal style that pushes out some bitter emotion. To top it off the lyrics in this piece are sharply delivered with some cleverly crafted metaphors.

Closer is a slower tune acting as a kind of warm down to the intense energy that was experienced over the previous 9 tracks.

This is an absolutely brilliant album! All songs on offer manage to be self contained as well as fit together with one another to create a smooth flowing long player. If you somehow missed it first time round here is a great chance to discover one of the great Australian albums of the last decade!

Rating:5 tomatoes

read the original review at tomatrax music blog here

also posted at happy music blog here



The Next Big Thing? Michael Cullen “Love Transmitter”

by Wil Cifer on Nov 22, 2013

Is it any secret that the 80′s were the last great decade of pop music? While bands from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Echo and the Bunny Men now give an edge to 80′s night at clubs every where, once they fell under the label New Wave or “College rock” in the heyday, they were punk bands they grew up and started writing pop tunes. This fact is not lost on Australian singer song writer Michael Cullen. In teaming up with the Church’s producer Tim Powles, he has recaptured the feeling of the great era of music and in doing so made one of the most convincing New Wave revival albums of the year.

The album opener “Do You Believe” rolling in with the dark clouds. Cullen’s vocals evoke Byran Ferry in is more “Love is the Drug” midrange. The fact the bass sits under the guitar and synths, make it less post- punk like the Cure and a more new-wave sound. His voice drops down into his more Nick Cave lower register on “Tidal Wave”. There is a more sonic dissonance to “All Used Up” that is more Gary Numan than Joy Division to me, though the taut guitar line is trying to capture that kind of tension.

More often than not I would say post-punk and New Wave , while elements of what comprises goth, are more fitting way to describe what Cullen does as he lacks the blatant bat cave creepiness. They keyboards that coat the back frequently touch on melodies that would not be out of place on a post- Pornography Cure album, but add solemn ambiance rather than anything hinting a predilection towards Halloween. There is an Echo and the Bunnymen, laziness to the melody of ”Hey Sister” that drifts by.

The guitar constricts around “Transmission” which creates a drone not unlike indie rock bands who pull from similar influences like Interpol and Arcade Fire. The lyrics to this song seem autobiographic in regards to the personal issues that inspired this darker dip into songwriting. This honesty is refreshing. The soul baring lyrics set this apart from younger bands who are angst ridden to keep up appearances, you can’t fake hard living. I don’t want my misery manufactured, but dished out in these cathartic doses.

Cullen’s baritone narrative on the bass line t goes back into the Nick Cave mode. I like the lyric “You think you are different honey/ the world’s full of girls like you” . This song has an almost blues like swagger to it. There’s a woozy wavering to “Chinese Hammer” that makes me think of what it might sound like if Leonard Cohen wrote a song for a David Lynch soundtrack. This is the albums least focused song, on an album thats otherwise pretty air tight.

The albums best guitar work appears on “Professional Entertainers” . This song is rather upbeat, holding more of an indie rock vibe, than the sonic tension that appears earlier on the album. He lowers his voice back down into the straight ahead sardonic humor of “One is Still My Number”. The later half of the album gets more upbeat, bringing to mind bands like Television.

The album ends on a more morose tone, back in the more Roxy Music meets New Order vein, synths whispering in the back ground. I enjoy his more plaintive vocal tones, though appreciate the varied vocal colors on the album. If you prefer an equal dose of 80′s flavored pop hooks and new wave to your post-punk, with less emphasis on the punk than this is the album for you. It fit my mood on the first listen, so color me gray without an overdose of morose and file this under highly recommended.

read the original review here

also posted at Abysmal Hymns blog here

and hiplanta.com here


Rock World Magazine

Michael Cullen’s “Love Transmitter” Finds the Pulse

Nov 21, 2013

Michael Cullen’s record Love Transmitter feels old school Nick Cave with dark undertones of Tom Waits. Cullen makes a definite mark with this record, letting the former punk prowess shine through the current crooner.

Shaped out of some cathartic life events for Cullen, Love Transmitter takes hold and doesn’t let up. The Australian artist has been immersed in music for over a decade and has honed an unique sound in the vein of Jim Morrison’s solo career and Joy Division. Particularly haunting is the track “Hey Sister.” And Cullen’s “Closer” is simply terrific in it’s raw power.

With Love Transmitter, Cullen asks that you ponder your mindset whilst letting go of the past. Sometimes intensity is exactly what you need.

read the original review here


Under The Gun Review

Album Review: Michael Cullen Love Transmitter

by Brian Lion on December 21 2013

Michael Cullen‘s Love Transmitter is the result of a marriage in shambles, the subsequent near-nervous breakdown, and a much-warranted depression; 35 minutes spanning 10 melancholic tracks of gothic new wave and moody indie rock. This is a newly released remaster yet even with an updated production it still sounds just as sad.

Almost anyone can relate to the material found on Love Transmitter. It’s one of those albums you lock yourself in your room and reflect with.

“What did I do wrong?”

“Should I have done something differently?”

We’ve all asked ourselves these questions at some point or another, and more often than not, those questions are in regards to a relationship gone awry. Cullen decided to take those questions and emotions and weave them into a creative vehicle. In a recent interview with Cullen, he explained to us, “Life is the grist of the artist’s mill – it can’t really be any other way and the artist’s own life makes for the most authentic source material.”

Seeming to also draw influence from fellow Australian, Nick Cave, ofttimes, Cullen will drop his voice to a far lower register, evident on tracks like “Tidal Wave” and “Spill.” This, in the whole of the album, can feel somewhat hokey at times but for the most part is forgotten once his normal vocals come back into play, which work far better with the tones and moods on most tracks. Despite its simplistic lyrics, “Tidal Wave” is one the album’s strongest offerings musically.

However, the deeper vocals work on “Hey Sister,” which is another stand-out on Love Transmitter. Serving as a mid-tempo gloom, “Hey Sister” is straight-forward on all accounts but it doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t and that’s commendable. Cullen doesn’t reach beyond what he knows and that’s part of what makes this album such an honest effort, apart from being directly influenced by his personal woes.

As depressing as it is, Love Transmitter‘s themes and tones are fantastic. It spans many areas of rock and feels straight out of the late ’80s post-punk scene. “Professional Entertainers” is a great example of this, reminiscent of Joy Division and Echo And The Bunnymen, but that could be said for a large portion of this album.

Love Transmitter has been out for quite awhile now and I’m sure things have been looking up in Cullen’s life since, so needless to say, I’m curious to see how the next effort will play out, influenced by a brighter look at life. The depressing series of unfortunate events faired quite well for this release, but will a less depressed Michael Cullen stack up against the woeful one? We’ll have to wait and see.

SCORE: 7/10

read the original review here


Veggie Fans

Michael Cullen ‘Love Transmitter’ Review

by Laurie Fanelli on March 24 2014

Australian musician Michael Cullen first recorded Love Transmitter in the early-2000s at a time when his life was in dire straits. Over a decade later the album, recently remixed and reissued, holds up as a post-punk masterpiece full of sonic melancholy and precarious anger.

With brooding vocals and humming guitars, Cullen takes listeners through a woeful wonderland. His lyrics are wonderfully unsettling as he sings in a deep baritone that commands attention. “Spill in Love” features a funky bassline as Cullen takes a jab at his female protagonist singing, “You think you’re different honey/The world’s full of girls like you.” He channels the haunting vocal styling of Leonard Cohen on the poetically reflective track “Hey Sister.”

“Professional Entertainers” is upbeat in its pessimism. “I’m surrounded everywhere I turn by professional entertainers,” Cullen sings, keenly observing people’s need to put on a show in every aspect of their lives. “All Used Up” is one of Love Transmitter’s many highlights. The music perfectly mirrors the frustration and confusion that comes at the end of a relationship.

Cullen is a true visionary in his ability to construct an album that is at once timeless and retro. He tackles universal human issues with a deep vulnerability that enhances each note. Love Transmitter is a beautiful album and it will continue to reach new audiences decade after decade.

Rating: 4.5 stars

read the original review here



Michael Cullen – Love Transmitter

by Craig Manning on April 14 2014

Sometimes, records just get lost.

With the sheer number of album releases that are available to us in this day and age, it’s easy to let so many of them pass us by, especially when them come from unknown or lesser known artists. Such is the case for Michael Cullen, an Australian singer/songwriter whose dense, dark, and trippy debut, called Love Transmitter, recently got reissued in a search for new listeners. A hybrid of a bunch of different goth-rock and post-punk bands – Joy Division, The Cure, and New Order are the most obvious influences – Love Transmitter is more or less what Beck’s Sea Change would have sounded like if it came out in the 1980s, and if that comparison can’t grab Cullen a few listeners, then I doubt anything can.

According to press materials, Cullen wrote and recorded this album in a haze of heartbreak and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That haze is evident all over this album, from the tranquilized Tom Waits vibe of “Hey Sister” to the trance synth dirge of album opener “Do You Believe?” This album legitimately sound like a guy at the end of his rope, and that fact alone makes it captivating – even if the songs themselves sometimes get dragged down by Cullen’s own emotionally catatonic state.

While this album got a reissue in 2012, it’s apparently been floating around for more than a decade now. Cullen says that the album was written and recorded in the fall of 2001 and the early winter of 2002. That fact means that the album’s dark 80s vibes were at least a decade too late to capitalize on the leftover interest in dark, dancehall-oriented rock music (Achtung Baby, anyone?), but also a year or two too early to really land in the middle of the 80s revival that would be spurred into the mainstream by bands like the Killers and Franz Ferdinand. In a lot of ways, then, Cullen’s sounds here were touching similar ground to what Interpol would hit (also in 2002) with Turn on the Bright Lights. Interpol’s record was embraced by the critical community, more or less kickstarting the renaissance of 80s goodwill in indie rock circles. Cullen’s record, meanwhile, was obviously not embraced in the same way, but the songwriter’s darker, more ponderous songs were absolutely cut from similar cloth.

Love Transmitter isn’t really an easy record to get through, if only because the songs are consistently shrouded in layers of musical and lyrical gloom. This certainly isn’t an album you’ll throw on at a party or for a fast summer drive, nor is it an album that will get as much attention as the other, more digestible 80s throwbacks that hit between 2002 and 2005. In the right mood, however, it’s possible that a lot of different listeners would find something to love here, from the guitar-heavy charge of “All Used Love” (which plays like a scuzzy forerunner to the sleazy Vegas intoxication of the Killers’ Hot Fuss) to the uneasy vocal multi-tracking of “Spill” (which wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on a Mansions record).

The album’s best track, though, is “Transmitter,” a dark bar-bound tale of obsession that boasts the record’s most memorable chorus. “Don’t blink, don’t blink, your life could be over before you finish that drink,” Cullen drawls, the kind of biting quip that this album is full of. You can’t quite tell whether he’s sad, pissed off, wasted, or in a state of perpetually not giving a shit, but that fact, the enigma of Cullen’s delivery throughout this album, makes it a consistently compelling listen. By the time we reach the end of track 10 (aptly titled “Closer”), Love Transmitter has served up enough misery and hazy confusion for any afternoon or evening, but even if this isn’t a record you put on repeat, it’s still one that’s hard to forget about once you’ve listened once.

Reviewer rating: 7/10

read the original review here



Album Review: Michael Cullen Love Transmitter Independent

by Scott Alexander on Nov 23 2013

In the dead of winter, August 2012, way way back before retina displays and pastel iOS’s, Australian songwriter and down-under superstar Michael Cullen re-released Love Transmitter (Remastered) to an audience salivating for some real music, and something that wasn’t Gag-nam Style. With the return of shoe-gaze and eighties inspired sounds in the last few years, it’s time for this record, originally recorded in 01/02 to stand up and be noticed.

A solid record and a familiar tone, Love Transmitter, and its talented conspirators, Cullen, and Producer/Percussionist Tim Powles (who also is quite well known in his native outback home), have worked together extensively in the past and have checked all the boxes with this offering. There is an undeniable force at play when musicians have as much history as these two exhibit, and it shows in their music.

Leading in with ‘Transmission’, Cullen’s booming, rich voice sets an impressive stage, with thoughtful lyrics put together as such they have their own personal meaning, yet listeners are open to create their own story from the experience. Swimming a literal bit deeper with ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Spill’, songs two and three respectively melt into a melancholic haze which is broken immediately with ‘Professional Entertainers’. It’s perhaps a common theme in albums released lately, to absorb the listener in an amalgamation of emotion right off the bat. It will make some people skip through the album, but for the tried and true music lover, it’s par for the course, to stay awake for the whole trip.

Filling out the creamy centre of Love Transmitter is a bit of pure poetry, with instruments thrown in for hyperbole, emphasizing the message contained within. To give it away here would only be but one thought on what it even means. At nearly forty minutes laid out neatly across ten songs, this is an album that could be added to any playlist in its entirety without much hassle. In this day and age of iTunes and online radio, this is truly how to grasp the attention of todays shoe-gazers.

Well, make that phone-gazers.

read the original review here


The Music Universe

Michael Cullen-Love Transmitter album review

by Rob Perez on Nov 29 2013

It’s refreshing to hear an artist evoking the spirit of the 80’s, 90, and the 21st century without sounding cheesy. Michael Cullen’s new album, Love Transmitter, is definitely one of 2013’s best indie albums of the year. While you definitely hear Bowie, Morrissey and plenty of punk/new wave/Goth and garage rock influences, Love Transmitter has plenty of original, reflective lyrics and just lots of really good tracks throughout the album.

While the influences are all over the place, the lead-off single “Do You Believe” definitely will have listeners picking out which artists did Cullen take from the most. Despite that, it is a deeply haunting personal song that will immediately have you thinking Interpol for its musicality while its moody lyrics will have you hearing Morrissey. There’s also plenty of Lower East Side New York City influences as “Transmission,” with its dark, New York City garage rock vibe will get you rockin’ (how often do you feel that on what’s suppose to be a new wave/Goth album?).

”Hey Sister” evokes a Leonard Cohen/Lou Reed sort of vibe while hands down the best track on the album, “All Used Up,” with its 90’s grunge vibe will instantly have you declaring this as one of your favorites songs you’ve heard in like, forever.

Thoroughly enjoyable, this is an album that will be a favorite of critics, discerning music tastemakers, and anyone in the mood for just really excellent music. Kudos to Michael Cullen for providing one enjoyable listening experience.

read the original review here


Flocked Media

Welcome Back to Synth Pop with Michael Cullen

by Yvonne Stegall December 9 2013

I like Synth Pop and New Wave. I love the flashbacks to the 80s I get when I listen to it. I like the mellow sounds, full of electronic sounds… it’s music you can dance to, sway to. Michael Cullen has fit his sound right into that of the classics in this genre of music; Nick Cave, Joy Division, The Cure… you get my point.

Synth Pop glory!

Now, to begin with, this album, Love Transmitter, is not new. It was originally released in 2002. It was Michael Cullen’s first solo album after being in the bands The Hardheads and Watershed. Now it has been remastered and re-released, for your listening pleasure (and mine). Do You Believe?, All Used Up, and Transmission are my favorite tunes on here. Some because of their lyrics, the other because of the beat.

The albums original release was well received. I think this remaster should be too. It has all the key ingredients that fans of this type of music love, so there is no reason not to embrace it. Of course, I probably have friends that still own the original release! Gravely instrumental sounds, a smooth baritone voice, the synthetic sounds of new wave music.

Michael Cullen is from Australia. He worked with Tim Powles on this album (you may know him the legendary band The Church). Tim not only produced Love Transmitter, but also played on the album.

Honestly, if you are a synth pop fan you will want to check this out. Listen to at least 2 songs before you make a judgement!

Read the original review here


Music Emissions

Michael Cullen – Love Transmitter

by Kevin Sellers December 6 2013

With success under various names (The Hardheads, which shortly were to transform into Watershed) in the early 1990’s, Australian rocker Michael Cullen resurfaced after an extended hiatus from producing music to release Love Transmitter in 2002. Synthetically infused, gothic-tilted rock with noteworthy collaborator Tim Powles behind the drum kit, Transmitter turned more than a few heads at the time. Now, in preparation for new material in the near future, Cullen has remastered and reissued Love Transmitter about a decade after its initial release.

I can actually remember hearing a handful of tracks from this record around the time it was released, on some defunct website that let you sample tracks from lesser-known, “underground” indie bands. I felt like I was listening to Nick Cave jamming with The Cure, as Michael’s voice has a distinct Cave-ish feel to it and the music dabbles in the goth-pop territories that made up a good portion of The Cure’s middle-era sound. Love Transmission is an easily digestible dose of this duality, cleverly written and expertly crafted, with the remaster apparently making the best of a mix that didn’t sound quite as good the first time around. The bass and synth work, in particular, take more of a front seat than on the original pressing. “Tidal Wave”, an old favorite, is an early example of this. “Hey Sister” almost has a gospel feel to it, quiet and contemplative before pulsing synths raise the heartbeat tempo just a bit. “Transmission” is, perhaps not ironically so, a very transparent tribute to Joy Division, complete with Cullen’s best Ian Curtis and a familiar snappiness to the drumming. “Closer” has a unique feel about it in comparison to the rest of Love Transmission”, almost pure retro in its heavy usage of synths and electronic drumming. It also happens to be one of the album’s better written tracks.

While the full product doesn’t quite draw me in anymore than the samples of it I’d heard in the past, Love Transmission is a formidable record all the same. It takes the better bits of a few different genres, merges them together into an organic brew of downtrodden modern blues and electronic sheen, grounded by Michael Cullen’s croon and earthy guitar tones. It works well, but I cannot fully speak towards the need or improvement over the original this remaster may or may not represent, seeing as how I never owned the original to begin with. Typically, though, ‘remaster’ is a good thing, especially for independently produced and/or released material.

Read the original review here


Just Press Play

This “Transmitter” Sends More Melancholy Than “Love”

by Robert Ottone December 21 2013

If you took James (of “Laid” fame), mixed him with Robert Smith and added a dash of Ian Curtis, you’d have Michael Cullen. Easily the darkest artist I’ve gotten to review yet, Cullen’s tunes are loaded with melancholy and dripping with loss. Oddly enough, there are underpinnings of hope, too, but those notes seem lost amid the darkness of the tracks themselves.

“Do You Believe?” reminds me of something that would’ve blasted from friends of mine’s cars as they drove around in the late 90’s. It’s not an ugly track, it’s just very dreary. Cullen is like Akira Yamaoka in that way, his music is beautifully complicated, filled with sound and wholly original while also being loaded with incredibly dark imagery and concepts.

I’d be hard-pressed to put a finger on just what kind of music Cullen is, other than that I dig it. Maybe it falls under the genre of “Rob Likes It.” As I’m a huge Joy Division, Yamaoka and James fan, I’m predisposed to like Cullen. He’s on Spotify if you wanna’ give him a listen. I’m following him and looking forward to more of his work, as I think it strikes a sweet yet sad chord at the same time.

“Chinese Hammer” has some serious Poets of the Fall vibes going for it, which is a very good thing. The song sounds like something out of Twin Peaks or the video game Alan Wake, again, very good things. Cullen really has a handle on whatever you wanna’ call his particular brand of songwriting. It isn’t fair to call it “dark,” per se, it’s more accurate to call it original, I guess. Love Transmitter is such a fascinating album, overall.

“Michael Cullen – “Love Transmitter”” is on sale August 1, 2012 from Speartackle Records.

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Michael Cullen Love Transmitter

by Dan MacIntosh December 2013

Michael Cullen sounds much like a Goth singer throughout Love Transmitter. His voice is akin to Nick Cave’s, only not quite as bellowing-ly low. He also doesn’t sing murder ballads, like the kind Cave is famous for. Instead of focusing on death lyrically, the way most Goth performers do, Cullen is much closer to an atypical love song singer/songwriter – only with a voice that simultaneously suggests realms of darkness. He’s a bit of a modern day Leonard Cohen, without being the world class poet Cohen is.

A track like “All Used Up” has a punk feel to it — especially due to the way Cullen sings it, which is youthful and urgent. Ironically, Cullen comes off fairly positive during another one titled “Transmission,” which finds him yearning for a girl and meditating on how life can be over in a blink of the eye. (How un-Goth of him!) Singing over an insistent guitar groove, this Australian performer comes off about as smitten as Springsteen once did, back when he mostly sang about cars and girls. With “Spill,” Cullen brings T Bone Burnett to mind a bit, as he speaks his way through part of it.

Love Transmitter is an album that will appeal to fans of acts like Editors. It has many of the sonic markings of Goth music, without the usual shock rock lyrical content. He’s not really saying much that is new, but because he puts his lyrics in such an appealing package, his album is a winner.

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Michael Cullen Love Transmitter

by Nathan Pike on December 15 2013

Michael Cullen’s debut album Love Transmitter may at first translate to some listeners as a brooding and overly dramatic style of music that could be a tad difficult to identify with. To be fair, Love Transmitter is a re-issue that is over 10 years old and comes off sounding pretty dated but after a while the technological and musical reminders of days past tend to slip under the skin.

Well into a new decade, Love Transmitter is a testament to the gloomy 90’s goth death rattle and kicking against the heralding of a new breed of no care posi-rock and a plasticized age.

The music on Love Transmitter is definitely intense and intensely personal, with lots of lyrical reference to love lost and what could have been which is really no different than much else that has been on the market in the last several decades. Yet it is only in the last couple of decades with technologies advance that it has been translated in this particular way and Cullen has done a fine job of getting it across both in sound and the emotional content that is very real.

The opening organ strains of “Do You Believe” bring me back to a time when media and computer manipulation was just an infant and emotional pull was king. The lo-fi keys and damp understated drum hits are old school quality and Cullens brassy vocals are emotive and raw. “Spill” and “Transmission” are cool tracks with their 90’s alternative heavy bass and guitar tricks while songs like “Tidal Wave” and “Hey Sister” have a bit of a Nick Cave flair going on, all gloomy and indulgent in hopeful despair.

Love Transmitter is definitely one for fans of the goth and alternative scene from yesteryear. Dense and emotive, with just a touch of tongue in cheek sass, Michael Cullens has painted a personal history that still holds up to this day.

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Neufutur Magazine

Michael Cullen Love Transmitter

by James McQuiston on December 9 2013

Do You Believe? Is the first track on Love Transmitter, and it provides listeners with a solid introduction to the styles and approaches that will be presented on the remainder of the album. Taken separately, the track is something that could easily be on rotation at alternative and modern rock stations.

All Used Up is a track that touches upon the work of Franz Ferdinand and an earlier new-wave tradition (The Psychedelic Furs, XTC); the hooky arrangements will ensure that listeners will have the track firmly implanted into their mind by the time that the disc ceases.

Chinese Hammer has a more deliberate feel to it; the comparison of human and fantastical here allows Cullen to put a decidedly new spin on the desert rock (e.g. The Doors) genre. While tapping out at the two and a half-minute mark, the pacing that Cullen utilizes here provides the track with an authoritas that belies its place in the middle of the pack.

Professional Entertainers is a ray of bright light on Love Transmitter; the faster tempo and slight bit of fuzz will appease listeners of all stripes.

One is Still My Number is a more straight-forward rock track in the vein of Cheap Trick or Foghat; there is little more here than vocals, drums, and guitar but Cullen is able to make the track into something epic.

Make sure to visit Cullen’s Bandcamp for the ability to listen to and even purchase the album. Love Transmitter is a rare example of an album that is as strong at its ending registers (One is Still My Number, Closer) as it did from its onset.

Top Tracks: Do You Believe?, All Used Up, One is Still My Number

Rating: 8.0/10

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Michale P Cullen

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