The gentlest of jangles, the sweetest of synths, and an unmistakable New Order twang, all add up to the most handsome of tunes. “Fernweh” is the German word for wanderlust, that uncontrollable urge to roam to other places, and as this has truly transportive qualities, that’s kind of perfect.
Radio Wolf is Oliver Blair, and this, his latest single, glitters oh so brightly. It instantly brought to mind Psychic TV’s 1985 pop-tastic classic “Godstar”, as well later 80’s purveyors of colorful and shiny indie-ness, The Adult Net, and Danielle Dax. It’s a picture sleeve as much as it is a song. And hell yes, it features vocals from Sarah Blackwood, late of 90’s band Dubstar, who are freakin’ awesome, and we’ve written about before, and are absolutely worth your time as well.
A big fat modern soul record here. Finally. You don’t hear too much straightforward, no frills R & B these days, so this was a bit of an ear catcher. Lyrically, it’s as simple as can be, and features some classic, old school, desperate, heart on the sleeve (yet romantic) begging, via J.W.J’s majestic voice. As an added bonus, if you are a 90’s soul geek like me it’ll trigger memories of underrated troubadours Will Downing and Tashan, and can’t pay a higher compliment than that.
Gorgeous and hazy. Vast and woozy. A bit psych and a bit Quiet Storm, a real soft focus beauty here from the New Zealand band off their new album “Lizard Tears”. And hey, gotta bow gently in honor to the vocal here, which sounds simultaneously anesthetized and sad and is supremely lovely.
This is taken from the forthcoming Kan Wakan, wait for it, triple lp “Phantasmagoria”, and features guest turns from both Rachel Fannan and Avi Buffalo. “Tuesday” is the very definition of wistfulness, evoking both the familiar acoustic melodicism of a McCartney ballad, as well as Laura Marling. Utterly timeless, and the perfect soundtrack to a solitary cold weather walk anywhere.
This is a song of no fixed time…as in it could’ve been made in any of the past 4 decades and still sound precisely as it does right now. It’s a marriage of Daughter to Cocteau Twins to Moodswings cult hit from 1992 with Chrissie Hynde, “Spiritual High” and is ineffably pretty, full of space and soul, and ready for you to completely lean upon it in times of need.
From the gorgeous and lingering held notes in the verses and chorus, to the vocal descents into the deep basement, to the mournful piano keys that recall “Inner City Blues ( Make Me Wanna Holler)”, this is a real stunner…it’s also, dare I say, even better than anything on her pretty fine debut from back in 2014, “Yellow Memories”. Beauty.
Here is some medicine to relieve the stress, pain, and tears that this seemingly worldwide mayhem has caused over the past year for all of us. The Dynamic Superiors were a latter era Motown act, who recorded 4 albums for the label from 1975-1977. Their lead singer, Tony Washington’s sweet falsetto was every bit as beautiful as that of his contemporary, Russell Thompkins Jr., of the million selling Stylistics i.e. utterly angelic, and not of this world. Still the Dynamics never achieved near the Stylistics level of success. They did however have 1 shining moment in the sun, releasing one of the most perfect slices of seventies soul ever, “Shoe Shoe Shine”, written by the legendary Motown songwriting team of Ashford & Simpson. And so, we invite you to please watch this sublime, and insane performance by yours, The Dynamic Superiors from “Soul Train”, December 21st, 1974 because there is so much bad sh*t happening right now and we could all use a little medicine. As long as the earth is turning, these guys will be here for us, in all their yellow suited glory. And for 3 minutes and 30 seconds, that slow spin will make everything feel okay.
Settle in children, as Ed Zed brilliantly tells of the maniacal genius of The Cravats…
Rarely is it a good idea for punk bands to return with a new album following a few decades’ absence. All too often that vital vim, venom and raw energy become deadened over time or else extinguished completely, so that a band may be able to play a bit better but ultimately have fuck all to say and sound glaringly obsolete saying it.
The Cravats, however, are different. Very, very different. And indeed, to label these sax-bleating Dadaist psycho-geniuses merely as a punk band would be to do them a cruel disservice.
For those unfamiliar, The Cravats began life in the unassuming English town of Redditch in that fabled year of 1977, operating in something of a vacuum of their own making – which is to say they flagrantly defied the more rigid of punk’s pieties to become something more akin to a jazz-damaged, absurdist theatre troupe – almost a genre unto themselves.
Having infected the post-punk milieu with some of the most outlandishly exciting music it had yet seen, The Cravats went on indefinite hiatus around 1985, not to be heard from again (at least not under their sartorial banner) until the hoverboard-festooned superfuture of the 2010s, when they re-emerged with ‘Jingo Bells’, a growling gob in the face of Tory-‘led’ Britain.
The record picked up almost seamlessly from where the Cravs left off 30 odd years ago, with a blistering sound as temporally unclassifiable in the 21st century as it was in the 20th. And so, ladybugs and gentleflies, they were back.
And now in 2017 they bring us a new album ‘Dustbin of Sound’, a work whose strangeness and charm seem once again exempt from shelf life.
‘King of Walking Away’ (the intro to which is pleasingly reminiscent of John Coltrane’s ‘Acknowledgement’) operates as a lyrical and musical mission statement – angular, discordant, earnest yet playfully political, and dosed to the eyeballs with time-honoured Cravatian absurdism, which features beauteous head boy The Shend crooning what must be one of the lines of year: ‘when you bathe that desire I’m an electric fire balanced precariously on your porcelain rim’.
From here on, Shend and his crackpot company lead a stentorian charge through The House that Cravats Built – starting with a party in the parlour of the ‘Batterhouse’, then up the stairs to race around the mutated surf rock corridors of ‘Motorcycle Man’, ‘100 Percent’ and ‘Bury the Wild’, before pausing on a moonlit landing to observe an evil child pushing a naive parent down the stairs to the cuckoo strains of ‘Whooping Sirens’, saxes blazing all the while.
The rompingly sardonic ‘Hang Them’ and frenzied ‘Big Red Car’ segue beautifully into the album’s closer (and one of my personal favourites), ‘All U Bish Dumpers’, which finds The Cravats’ Dadaist preposterousness in full flight (‘the squirrel’s role was to goad idiots toward an unidentified trestle montage’).
A friend of mine who was lucky enough to experience the Cravs in concert several times during the early 80s once put their lack of broader appeal down to the fact that they were ‘too punk for the new wave crowd and too new wave for the punk crowd’. One would like to think that these days the two are far from mutually exclusive, and that cross-pollinators in a class of their own like The Cravats would now receive the adoration they so deserve – though if they don’t, I doubt it will matter to them very much.
Some are made for the margins, and that is why these fine gentlemen of the squonky cloth remain as timeless, savage and brilliant as ever.
Now tie a Cravat about your scrawny neck and feel it constrict until you’re forced into a hangman’s dance in the Dustbin of Sound. You just might enjoy it.
Here are some wonderful new and recent tunes all neatly compiled for your listening pleasure. These playlists include songs we’ve featured plus ones we haven’t so there’s still some discovering to be done ! As usual there’s some stuff that is only on Soundcloud, and some that is only on Spotify, which is why there are playlists for each to catch all the raindrops. And so you are actively encouraged to listen to both !!
Here’s the Soundcloud Playlist:
And here is Spotify :