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The Cravats being excited about Dustbin of Sound

Review: The Cravats. 2017. Dustbin of Sound. Overground Records. Over157 LP | Over157 CD

I’VE HAD THE good fortune to see the reformed and rejuvenated Cravats perform live twice in the last few years. On both occasions, they’ve been extraordinary and utterly compelling.

At Steve Ignorant’s Last Supper gig in London in November 2011, The Cravats took to the stage in front of an audience so densely packed together you’d have to conclude that the venue’s published 2k capacity was, in practice, a “minimum occupancy” requirement. Completely unphased by the stature of the event, The Cravats began with a mesmerising version of “Rub Me Out”, the opening salvo in an explosive set. The band took the place by the scruff of the neck and didn’t relinquish the hold until they had delivered their closing declaration of intense dislike for the universe.

As the headliners to Vi Subversa’s Naughty Thoughts in Brighton in December 2015, The Cravats were no less insistent in front of an intimate club audience. The swirling, seething indignation of “When Will We Fall” was a highlight in a riveting set that blended numbers old and new.

They might have put “it” down for a while, during the “Cravatless times” after the band went on indefinite hiatus in the mid-1980s (evolving into several successor outfits) before the 2009 reunion, but seeing The Cravats on stage again now is immediate, visceral confirmation that The Shend and his fellow troubadours have picked “it” up again and fully intend to bash anyone within reach around the ears with it.

In the last 12 months, The Cravats have become something of a vinyl generating machine. Impressive and well-received new singles Jingo Bells and Blurred have now been followed in short order by the band’s first album in 37 years: clear evidence of the band’s renewed surge of confidence and creativity.

With more than three decades in which to prepare, it’s fair to say that expectations are running high. Being The Cravats, the only proper way to reset the preconceptions of others is to select a suitably self-deprecating title for the album. Dustbin of Sound is, as you would expect, anything but a trashcan of discarded, cast-off noises. It is in fact a carefully crafted selection of the stuff that The Cravats (as this release attests) still do so well: musical and lyric creations that are inventive, unexpected, powerful, that little bit weird and unsettling, and delivered with a distinctive, off-kilter sense of panache that remains the band’s signature.

Dustbin of Sound is anything but a trashcan of discarded, cast-off noises. It is in fact a carefully crafted selection of the stuff that The Cravats still do so well

Events begin with scowling, soaring “King of Walking Away”, the fractious and punchy “Batterhouse”, and the disarmingly retro “Motorcycle Man”. Rampton Garstang on drums and Joe 91 on bass make for a formidably tight and accomplished rhythm section, while Viscount Biscuits power-drives his guitar through the twists and turns of every arrangement, dropping out and then surging back in as needed. Svor Naan writes such original and inspired parts for saxophone and clarinet you can’t help but wonder if he’s got some sort of special licence, while throughout The Shend sings, shouts, whispers, and threatens to assail you with a spoken word vocal; sometimes all within the confines of a single song. In the mix, there are moments of jazz-infused switcheroos, hints of The Birthday Party, and echoes of mid-period Dead Kennedys, but mostly there’s a hearty dose of the work of those peerless Cravats boys.

There genuinely isn’t a weak track amidst the 13 that make up the album. It’s therefore difficult to pick favourites, but for this reviewer the shortlist would include the high-amped “Power Lines”; the disconcertingly marvellous “Bury the Wild”, with its wildly upbeat bridge linking the verse to the rumbling, grumbling chorus; and the caustically catchy “Hang Them”.

The Cravats have always been more at home with the Dadaist, semi-surrealist reading of the anarchist idea than with the polemics of Bakunin or Murray Bookchin. You’ll search in vain for singalong slogans or simple wave-fist-in-air issue cues in a Cravats song. The Cravats’ anarchism is more artistically rooted and instinctive than that, although you’re never left in doubt about their clear political affinities. The Shend remains as capable as ever of penning a witty, acerbic or comedic (but always insightful) lyric about some aspect or other of the absurdities of life lived in a state of unfreedom. (So we’ll allow him the stream of disassembled lyrical ridiculousness in “All U Bish Dumpers”).

Dustbin of Sound is exemplary Cravats’ work. The sound mix is muscular and clean, lighting up a band on razor-sharp form; in both the songwriting and performance stakes. This is a more than fitting follow-up to 1980’s The Cravats in Toytown and 1986’s The Colossal Tunes Out, a set of top tunes that deserve to blare out from tannoy systems and other sound devices across the land. In terms of satisfying unmet musical desires, a new Cravats album is the very thing. Let’s just agree that we won’t have to wait another forty years for the next one.

Dustbin of Sound is released on 29 September 2017, and is available for pre-order from the Overground Records site.

The Cravats - Dustbin of Sound - The Shend is flying

The Cravats. 2017. Dustbin of Sound. Overground Records. Over157 LP / Over157 CD

  • In the UK, you can enjoy tracks from The Cravats session for BBC 6’s Mark Riley show (18 September 2017), previewing songs from Dustbin of Sound (“Bury the Wild”, “Hang Them” and “Batterhouse”) on the BBC iPlayer Radio service until 21:00 on 18 October 2017.

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The Cravats - Dustbin of Sound LP
 

The Cravats – Dustbin of Sound

The new thirteen-song album from The Cravats is released on Overground Records (in CD and vinyl formats) on 29 September 2017 (34 years to the day since the first Stop the City demonstration, don’t you know…). More details to follow, as the release date approaches.

In anticipation, check out the official video for the band’s most recent single release Blurred:
 

 

The Cravats - Dustbin of Sound - launch party

 
The Cravats
Interrobang!?
The Astronauts

Saturday 21 October 2017 | 19:30
The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JB
Tickets

After 35 years The Cravats return with a brand new LP, Dustbin of Sound on Overground Records.

As always featuring co-founder, The Shend and sax-riddling behemoth, Svor Naan, the band have finally recorded 13 new tracks of dada-fuelled, bass-laden oddness and will be performing a pile of it at this special launch do along with a spattering of hits from the past.

With Rampton Garstang on drums, Viscount Biscuits on guitar and Joe 91 on bass you can unexpect the expected.

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The challenging / provocative / controversial / suspect / distasteful / unconscionable (* choose your adjective) Cold Spring Record label are to release Kernschmelze II – ‘Cantata for Improvised Voice’, a new work featuring words and lyrics by Penny Rimbaud, vocals by Eve Libertine and artwork by Gee Vaucher. The musical soundtrack for the piece is composed of recorded voices processed by Charles Webber “to almost choral proportions”.
 

Penny Rimbaud’s Kernschmelze II – ‘Cantata for Improvised Voice’
 

Penny Rimbaud’s Kernschmelze II – ‘Cantata for Improvised Voice’

Kernschmelze: ‘the dying gasps of the Age of Enlightenment’. Kernschmelze II is a cantata for voices, in this case the voice of Crass songstress Eve Libertine, processed by Charles Webber to almost choral proportions. Working on Kernschmelze II alongside Eve Libertine, Penny Rimbaud has been able to produce a classic album on a par with their Acts of Love of 1984 (Crass Records). Libertine’s sparse, vulnerable poetics counter the almost Wagnerian scale of the work, challenging preconceptions of what music should be and making strong suggestions as to what it might yet become. Extreme electronics sourced solely from vocal sounds to create noise music of an intense and highly demanding nature. Ecopak with artwork by Gee Vaucher

Pre-order CD

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References
Steve Ignorant (with Matthew Worley)
Dimlo Productions: 2017.

 
Available direct from the Dimlo Etsy online shop.
 

If you ever wanted to know how / why or what inspired Steve to write his lyrics than this is the book for you.

In conversation with Matthew Worley (‘old’ punk, professor and author himself) Steve is talking about his lyrics and stories around them.

The book contains Steve’s lyrics and also features original lyrics, photographs and images from personal collection.

With a foreword from The Shend of the Cravats and blurb by Jason Williamson from Sleaford Mods. If you want to read every single word or just flick through this is a great book.

Self published under the name Dimlo Productions, 160 pages, landscape ‘soft’ cover 230mm x 155mm x 15mm book.

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Carol Hodge (Slice of Life, Steve Ignorant’s “The Last Supper”) has established a new independent record label Chopback with Simon Wells, founder member and original guitarist with London punksters Snuff. “Our first release, which came out on vinyl and CD on 1 July 2017, and is a solo album by Simon, entitled Crime of the Scene,” explains Hodge. “I play piano and sing backing vocals on it, and am very proud of what we’ve achieved. It’s a huge departure from Simon’s punk past and has so far been compared to Van Morrison, Billy Bragg and Neil Young,” she reveals. “But don’t let that put you off.”

“Snuff started when I was 18, we were part of a scene,” says Wells. “Thrash punk was something that was happening and we became part of that but put our own mark on it, and didn’t sound like any other bands around at the time. I’m now much older, I’ve done many different types of music. This album I’ve purely enjoyed and indulged myself and played around with songwriting and enjoyed the sounds,” he continues. “I wasn’t really writing it for anyone else, I was doing it for me. I wanted to make an album that sounded more mellow. I feel like I’ve achieved that.”

“The most influential musician on the album is Carol Hodge whose style of piano gave so much to the songs that it influenced the way they were presented,” Wells adds. “Duncan Thompson is a friend I’ve known since he was 16. He was the drummer in Southport for some time, is a great musician and influence on me musically. He played drums and some bass on the album. Viola was played by Anita Bushell, who stepped in after a series of string player let downs. She did a great job.”

Simon Wells announces new solo album Crime Of The Scene

Crime Of The Scene, the debut solo album from Simon Wells, is ready for release on Hastings based independent label Chopback. Drawing arrangement influences from the likes of James Taylor, Van Morrison and Howlin’ Wolf, Crime Of The Scene is an acoustic album with finely crafted and poignant lyrics. Acoustic guitar, piano, bass, drums and viola are sparsely utilised to support Simon’s gravelly and soulful vocals.

Simon’s musical career spans three decades, starting in the late 1980s as guitarist and songwriter for the seminal London punk band Snuff. After more than a decade of touring the world and selling over half a million records, he moved onto drums in the band Your Mum. The late 90s and early 2000s led to success in the dance music scene, primarily with project Headstone Lane and sessions with MOBO winners 4Hero and Mercury Prize nominated Future Sound Of London. In 2003 he founded mod punk band Southport, releasing albums on Go Kart, Golf Records and Boss Tuneage. The final Southport album Southern Soul was released in 2014, in collaboration with Yo Yo Records and Fixing A Hole.

The rest of 2017 will see a national tour, appearances at Wonkfest (The Dome, London, Saturday 1st July) and Rebellion festival (Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Thursday 3 August, Almost Acoustic stage, 17:10), as well as the release of brand new tracks through the Chopback Patreon campaign, which also provides supporters with discounts on all physical merchandise, plus select free downloads of Simon’s back catalogue.

Simon Wells

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No Defences - Released

THE DEBUT ALBUM by No Defences has secured a belated release on the Demo Tapes label, 32 years after it was first recorded for Crass Records. The twelve-inch vinyl Released LP has been pressed from a ‘cassette copy of a rough mix’ shared with the band before the Crass Records project was abandoned late in 1985.

The record is available for purchase online from Lavidaesunmus, and Rough Trade (in the UK), Faith / Void (Canada), Grave Mistake Records (USA) and other independent retailers.

Recorded in 1985 for Crass Records but never released, Demo Tapes do the decent thing and release this five track lost album by five piece South London band No Defences. The album was recorded at Southern Studios with Pete Wright producing, but it was never completed. This album has been painstakingly put together and remastered from tapes taken from the studio at the time. Their sound was anything but anarcho punk – it had a strong tribal element in the rhythm section, post punk flourishes in the guitar work and lyrics that were poetic, individual and radical. The songs were often long with multiple timing changes but always with an intensity and passion. No Defences played gigs with everyone at the time from Crass to Flux of Pink Indians to Crucifix and toured with Chumbawamba and Reality Control but sounding like none of these bands. No Defences were a special band and after years and years of trying to release this album, Demo Tapes are proud to release Released 32 years after it was recorded. It comes with a full size full colour booklet with photos, lyrics, archive and a full list of every gig No Defences played.

A note from the band in the full-size colour booklet explains:

This recording comes from a cassette recording of a rough mix made during the recording of our album for Crass Records in 1985 (as the original multi-track tapes had been recorded over or lost). At the time we hoped to take it further sonically than what you hear on this record but sadly it was never mixed or finished and No Defences then disbanded at the end of 1985. Huge thanks to Sean for now releasing this. Some of us had lost touch and not spoken for decades and it’s been great to catch up and work together again. Thanks also to Paco [Mus] and to those who lent material for this booklet. No Defences were Dik, Sid, Bev, Iggy, Andy.

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Omega Tribe - Pete Fender - March 2017

OMEGA TRIBE HAVE announced that the reformed band will be recording and releasing a new vinyl EP in this summer.

“Omega Tribe met up with Pete Fender on Saturday (25 March), at a café in Bounds Green north London,” the band explained. “We are going into the studio on 11 April to record an EP with Pete Fender producing.” The plan is to record songs for a “three or four track vinyl release”, with the possibility a CD and digital format release to follow.

Fender, who was a member of Omega Tribe, performing and recording with the group in the early 1980s, engineered and co-produced the band’s celebrated No Love Lost LP released in 1983.

“There’s no record company involved as yet, so this will be a DIY release”, the band add. “We are not ruling out help from a record label, if it’s the right deal. We have got some ideas for distribution but we’d be happy for any external help and ideas.”

The band are aiming to “have it recorded, mixed and get vinyl copies pressed up before our US tour in August.”

Further details of the release will follow soon.

UPDATE, 29 MARCH 2017: Omega Tribe say: “Unfortunately, Pete Fender has now had to retract his offer to produce Omega Tribe’s new record. Pete has his own personal reasons for changing his mind. Although this is disappointing, there are no bad feelings on either side. The band will now discuss whether to look for and use a different producer or produce the recording ourselves.”

UPDATE, 13 APRIL 2017: Omega Tribe have posted the following update to the band’s Facebook page: “A change in our line up, Sonny Flint is no longer drumming with us. Sonny did a lot to help get Omega Tribe going again and we wish him well. Rhod ‘Lefty’ Burnett has joined us on drums and we’re looking forward to playing live with him, starting in Paris this Friday.”

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