Thursday, 16 April 2020

NEWS: Bethlehem Casuals release new concept album available tomorrow.

BETHLEHEM CASUALS
ANNOUNCE CONCEPT ALBUM:
‘THE TRAGEDY OF STREET DOG’
- 17th APRIL 2020 -

This year, psychedelic jazz-pop oddballs - BETHLEHEM CASUALS - return with their brand new album: The Tragedy of Street Dog’. 

Ambitious, inventive and plain barking mad, this is a concept record unlike any that has come before and it will be released everywhere on 17th April 2020.

For the uninitiated, these Manchester misfits are proof that seven heads are undoubtedly better than one. With their infectiously idiosyncratic compositions, strung-out live shows and, of course, their notably laid-back nature (it’s in the name); these past few years Bethlehem Casuals have been ensnaring growing audiences in their deliriously entertaining cocktail of sounds and wickedly lurid imagination. The hydra-headed band now launch into 2020 with a new concept album that is a bizarre extension of their collective mindset.

The Tragedy of Street Dog’ tells the story of a house-pet-gone-rogue. Set in the band’s own hometown, the story follows a canine protagonist ‘Street Dog’ as he embarks on a quest to rediscover the music of Manchester. Along his perilous journey, Street Dog visits some of the city’s infamous haunts like Temple Bar, The Oxford Road and The Hacienda, and encounters treacherous foes like ‘River Rat’ (a character who will be familiar to fans from the band’s first EP) and ‘The Oki’ (a despicable “scream without a mouth”). Discovering that all the music in Manchester is being held hostage in Salford (where else?), Street Dog frees the incarcerated musical spirits and enjoys the night of his life in their company as he begins a rite of passage through the city’s sounds, from psychedelia, electro, disco and beyond.

If this is sounding like a ludicrous amount of sound and narrative to capture in one 50-minute record, you’d be right to raise your concerns. Thankfully, with your narrators one of the most musically gifted septets to emerge from the Manchester scene in recent times, skilled in a wild array of instruments from synths to saxophones, cellos to clarinets, and each equipped with a worldly-wise knowledge of pop, jazz, psych, funk, folk and beyond; you can put your faith in the Bethlehem Casuals to pull it off.

True to the concept, their upcoming album sees the Casuals nod to the sounds of Manchester’s multifarious scenes of old, but also throw in their own eccentric and far-flung influences. The jazzy refrains of album opener “80s Something” lure the listener in with a trip down Baker Street, before descending into the kind of loose-limbed punk-funk Ian Dury would be proud to beat with his rhythm-stick. And as ‘The Tragedy of Street Dog’ yarn unfurls, there’s sonic meanderings through Welsh folksong and frantic kraut rock in the unpredictably euphoric 9-minute offering “​The Passion​” (of which current single “Flaccid Passion” is an extract). Elsewhere, the sozzled bar-room blues of “Street Dog” showcases a more stripped-back side to the band awash with tequila teariness one moment and unexpected time-changes the next. Relentless rock effort ​”The Drink​” follows​, w​ith guitars, cello and vocals all firing in unison, before rising to a cacophonous saxophone solo with the potential to broadside a Night Boat to Cairo. The Casuals sign-off with the infectious, unapologetic pop singalong of “Change”. From its soupy mutant jazz origins to its dancefloor splitting cosmic disco tempo-shifts, “Change” stumbles in like Steely Dan sweating with an unexpected bout of Saturday Night Fever, and staggers out with an audacious disco exit that very nearly refuses to accept its closing time.

Erudite and experimental, ‘The Tragedy Of Street Dog’​ sees Bethlehem Casuals’ brand of sleazy, sultry and saxy oddball pop coming into its own. Mind-bending and musically adept in equal measure, it’s one heck of a ride and a record that casts a fresh and fantastical light on whether a dog’s life is perhaps all that bad after all…

‘The Tragedy of Street Dog’ was recorded at Giant Wafer Studios, Llanbadarn Fynydd in May 2019. All tracks on the album were engineered by Saam Jafarzadeh and Ashwin Menon, with mastering by Peter Fletcher

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