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 :
This is a story. A fly on the wall. Both poetic, and regal with a handsomely mannered yet emotionally fragile vocal. “Two Free Hands” is going to be featured on a forthcoming ep from Anthonie, and it’s just exceedingly pretty, and timeless.
It’s been a year since we’ve heard from Portland’s Bed. which is too long, but all is forgiven thanks to the world weary romantic resignation, and sad fuzz of their new song “Fine”. Yeah, it’s just a lovely thing all around.
Sean McMahon is Workman Song, and this one could possibly be heard as the 2017 equivalent, in scope of message, to the earnest, is he serious, 70’s cheese pop anthem by Norman Greenbaum, “Spirit in the Sky”, though the sound itself is more in the vain of old Elton John, or Nilsson…or at least it is early on. After about a minute it morphs from sparse piano ballad with a metronomic beat to a fat, practically glam rock Mott the Hoople sound-wall namely one with all “All the Young Dudes” spray painted on it. It’s a small epic.
Singer Alaina Moore said she channelled her inner Karen Carpenter on this one, an ode to her personal anxiety. And while it is gorgeously imbued with KC’s immaculate heartbreak, it also brings to mind both Saint Etienne and Todd Rundgren, which is to say it’s melodic and completely swoonworthy and could be timestamped anywhere from 1972- now. It’s off Tennis’s forthcoming ep “We Can Die Happy”, and is seriously one of the finest songs these guys have ever done.
Here’s some lush post rock/dreampop beauty courtesy of Toronto’s Tearjerker. It’s evocative, and desperate, and probably not a good idea to listen to if you are feeling low because it may trigger floods of tears…but you know what though, it’s worth it, so yeah just grab a tissue or sleeve, and put your headphones on.
“Dear Jesus where’d you learn to talk to girls like that?”, Isaac croons and twangs in admiration, befuddlement, and something else completely indescribable. This sounds like a lovelorn, or maybe life-lorn Hank Williams, thrown in a blender with the fifties chestnut “I Only Have Eyes for You” in some bizarro alternate universe and is hard to forget once you’ve heard it…meaning it’s damn good.
While the Yadas bio mentions the influences of Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Flaming Lips, “Oceans” has all the earmarks of the classic mid-western power pop sound, namely it’s melodic, hook-laden and features a big fat guitar line. It brings to mind the kind of thing so heartwarmingly served up over the years by Material Issue, and Cheap Trick, as well as easterners, the Gigolo Aunts. The Yadas hail from Durham, England so not sure if they’ve indulged in any of that stuff, but no matter, this thing can stand among the giants proudly.