Hailing from Chicago, The Claudettes are not your average blues jam band. With elements of blues, soul, punk, and flat out noise, the quartet have something truly unique that you have to hear to understand – even if it only succeeds to confuse you more. Having recently added classically taught jazz vocalist Berit Ulseth to their touring roster, the group is preparing to release their first album with her at the helm. Produced by the Grammy-winning Black Keys producer Mark Neill, Dance Scandal at the Gymnasium! is due out on March 23rd.
Single “Don’t Stay With Me” is heavy on the bass and filled to the brim with driving keys, heavy snare, and warped guitar riffs. The sum of this cacophony is much more charming than it would seem, having the effect of infusing the melodic elements of the song with deliciously rich texture. Ulseth’s vocals are given full reign to float angelically above the heavy sound floor, providing a lovely contrast. The song tells the common, yet unfortunate story of a mismatched couple that just can’t seem to break it off. Clever lyrics describe the predicament with a flair for double entendre: “You know you fold like sheet / I want to shake like a leaf on a tree / You come way too easily for me / Don’t stay with me.”
The video for “Don’t Stay With Me” is a humorous nod to the benefits of not taking yourself too seriously. The video consists of slick performance shots of Ulseth and the band intercut with seemingly random shots of band members doing odd tasks, such as unpacking groceries and shoveling sand into a sack. Overlaid throughout the video are what may or may not be actual editor’s notes, including the line, “Use this shot if Claudettes check bounces,” over a shot of a band member lying in a Spiderman sleeping bag and attempting to eat something off his chest. Along with the video came the cautionary note that a band should never bounce a check to their music video editors. Whether video’s final form was intentional or just a happy accident, The Claudettes’ sense of humor shines through.
With an extensive spring tour of the Midwest and East Coast planned in support of their new album, we can only hope that The Claudettes will be added some West Coast dates to that list.