go down on a smoldering red head in a tight dress.
voice channels aching and longing as three shimmying, bouffant haired singers
in sequined dresses harmonize along with her. To the left, a baritone sax wails
and shudders as the soul claps rise and fall in and out of a blaze of sound.
The diva in front of her band raises her eyes to the ceiling, fist clenched
tightly to her heart. The dancing ends over the roar of the crowd, they stand
there entranced, sweating, and waiting: a typical dramatic moment for Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes.
Browne experience is like a vivid flashback to the sixties, one that transports
you straight onto the set of Shindig but with a darker undercurrent, with
shades of David Lynch or Federico Fellini piercing through.
want to experience joy and pain in the same moment, and bring the audience
along on an emotional journey with me." Browne asserts.
Over the past three years the
arresting head chanteuse in charge of nine -piece Clairy Browne and the Bangin'
Rackettes has transcended humble origins from playing a residency at a local
club in Melbourne, Australia to
joining an international tour with Oz stadium rockers the Cat Empire, to
recently signing with Vanguard Records
and headlining their own US tour.
album "Baby Caught the Bus"
produced by the award winning Steve Schram (Public Enemy, Cat Empire) drips
with heart-wrenching doo-wop, noir theatrics, party attitude and tough-as-nails
soul, the songs on the album have drawn favorable comparisons to artists as
diverse as Sharon Jones, Tina Turner and Bettye LaVette.
want the live show and the recordings to complement each other but also stand
alone as separate entities," Browne explains. “We try to record mostly
live because it reflects the rawness and grit in our sound. And the music has
to be something you can always dance to, be it slow and grinding, or wild and
commitment to raw emotion pays off, whether on the luridly seductive “Yellow
Bird", the torchy, angst-fueled "Vicious Cycle" a homage to the
fallen icons of classic soul, the drunken party clap-a-long
"Frankie", the vengefully dramatic "She Plays Up To You",
the title track "Baby Caught The Bus", with its fetching ah-OOH
vocals and rapid-fire choreography, or "Love
Letter" inspired by the film The Piano Teacher, with its mix of
sensuality and menace.
expect to see a global presence from these irrepressible, high-voltage soul
revivalists, now well-known to many a beer drinker around the world thanks in
part to a popular Heineken TV ad.
As is often
said - it takes a village and, indeed the number of people that make up the
group that is Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes is akin to a small
village. It is exactly this unique concoction of nine personalities that makes
the band what it is, they all come from very different places but all have a
common ground, a shared love of this music.
bassist Jules Pascoe had performed together for many years but lost touch and
their friendship for a while. Out of nowhere, Pascoe had a precognitive dream
about Clairy and soon after they reconnected in a bar one night and Browne
recalls going over to Pascoe's, a former coffin factory which the band fondly
calls the Pound, i.e. a home for stray dogs, and the idea for the band was
hashed out. The Pound became home to marathon jamming and writing sessions for
bandleader Jules and also for baritone saxophonist Darcy McNulty and the
foundation for the band was built. The bonds of friendship tightened during
these formative times that reveal themselves in the band's onstage chemistry.
baritone saxophone serves as the perfect musical counterpart to Browne's
purring and wailing with his alternately smoky and pyrotechnic sound, he brings
chops that have been honed from doing time in Melbourne's underground jazz
scene over many years. Guitarist Peter Bee brings his carefully sharpened
sleazy guitar sound, which has become signature to the band’s sound. Self
taught wiz-kid keyboardist Gabriel Strangio, the youngest member of the band
was dropped off at the Pound by Browne's little sister and has been making bad
jokes and playing creeped-out organ ever since. Drummer Nick "Ricky"
Martyn had been playing for over ten years in various chamber groups, jazz
combos and Turkish psychedelic folk troupes and provides the backbeat that
holds the band down. Pascoe, McNulty, Bee, Strangio and Martyn are the
backbone, the core of the band’s sound.
Out of the
shadows step the Bangin' Rackettes. Camilla McKewen, Loretta Miller and Ruby
Jones. The Rackettes bring a mixture
of vulnerability, toughness, sexuality and sweetness to complete the “girl group” part of the picture with
their shimmery harmonies and hypnotic stage presence.
and off, they are like sisters: spontaneously bursting into song in public
places, dyeing each others' hair, sharing clothes and makeup and working out
together with their own unique form of Jazzercise which they fondly call
Rackettercise. Before becoming a Rackette, Camilla could be found high kicking,
hair flicking and tap dancing on tables around her hometown. The resident
costumier is passionate about sequins, glitter, tassels and whiskey sours.
Camilla is sunshine on a cloudy day. As a child lovely Loretta would fall
asleep on the sofa while her mother, singer Tracy Miller known as the Gospel
Queen of Melbourne, rehearsed with her R&B band in the living room. Loretta
learned her stage moves at a young age from her tightly knit family of soul and
R&B musicians and was often found signing with alt-country singer aunt Lisa
Miller. The last Rack to join the pack was Ruby Jones, Ruby of the big hair,
hair so big it needs its own hotel room! Red lipped Ruby is the most rock 'n
roll of the gang, she hates funk, pretends to like jazz, lives for Jack White,
red wine and all things hyper-femme.
you have it ladies and gentlemen, here they are: Clairy Browne and The Bangin'
Browne - lead diva, your divaJules
Pascoe - bass guitar Camilla
McKewen – RacketteDarcy
McNulty - baritone saxophone Loretta
Miller - RackettePeter
Bee - guitar Ruby Jones
Strangio - keys Nick
Martyn - drums
“Baby Caught The Bus”
available May 21st on Vanguard Records