The Claudettes fuse Chicago piano blues with the full-throttle energy of rockabilly and punk and the sultriness of ’60’s soul to write a thrilling new chapter in American roots music. Johnny Iguana pounds the piano alongside seductive singer Berit Ulseth, with bassist/singer Zach Verdoorn and drummer Danny Yost holding down the rhythm. Johnny, who toured for years with his cult-favorite rock band, “oh my god”, is also a member of the Grammy-nominated groups Chicago Blues—A Living History and the Muddy Waters 100 Band. He has also toured/recorded with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and more. The band recorded this new album (their 3rd), Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium, with Grammy-winning producer Mark Neill (Black Keys, Paladins, Old 97’s, J.D. McPherson).

Bold and strident, “Don’t Stay With Me” opens the album with a deep, heavy sound and Ms Ulseth’s vocals are instantly seductive and warm; “November” is somewhat cacophonous and ponderous; “Give It All Up For Good” has a boogie vibe with a Dr. John feel, overall; “Pull Closer To Me” is a slower but sweet piece about relationships; “Infuential Farmers” also left me a little puzzled because the lyrics aren’t clearly audible, although the performance has a fierce intensity.  “Utterly Absurd”, the album’s closer has a sort-of ’60’s spy vibe but, yet again, the vocals aren’t up in the mix enough for me to really enjoy it.

While this album has some very nice moments – the arrangements are tight and the overall production is good; I like Ms. Ulseth’s voice a lot – it’s a bit uneven and didn’t really give me that certain excitement I hope for when I haven’t heard an artist’s work previously.  Also, the burying of vocals of some songs was a distraction, which is a shame as the musical performances are great and the balance isn’t there.

Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium is currently available






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About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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