Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium

The Claudettes

Yellow Dog Records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Hailing from Chicago, The Claudettes plays an unlikely meshing of blues, rockabilly, jazz, and '60s pop, all with traces of burlesque and vaudeville spirit. On their third album and first album with new singer Berit Ulseth, the new tunes are highlighted well by Ulseth's seductive pipes, and pianist and chief songwriter Johnny Iguana appears to be in top form with well-crafted tracks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Don't Stay With Me” starts off with keys, hazy guitars and sweet, warm female vocals from newcomer Ulseth, and “November” follows with a soulful, rowdy burlesque approach. “Give It All Up For Good” then takes that soulfulness and adds fun garage rock with it, but this is only a small indication of the varied sounds to come.

Later on, songs like “Naked On The Internet” pair retro sounds with modern day topics in a way that would make Jerry Lee Lewis smile, and “Pull Closer To Me” brings the tempos and volume down to calm, emotive balladry where Ulseth harmonizes with bassist Zach Verdoorn. The mostly instrumental title track where the jazz influences are most obvious, and hints at what to expect on the back end of the listen.

The second half of the album highlights the fusion aspect of the outfit well with the retro-folk meets psyche-Americana of “Bill Played Saxophone,” the tumbling piano of “Influential Farmers,” and subdued, gorgeous vocals of “Death And Traffic,” which makes great use of marching band style drumming. Near the end things get dreamy with “Total Misfit,” the rowdy delta-blues of “Taco Night Material,” and the album ends with the lush, loud versus soothing dynamics of “Utterly Absurd.”

An album with a little bit of something for everyone, Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium is both reserved and ignited, sophisticated and reckless, and it contains some of the best elements of every notable genre of music since the '60s into a refreshing, diverse journey. There aren't too many albums that can remind you of both The Cramps and Patsy Cline, and that alone should be enough to warrant a listen.

Rating: A-

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