New Long Leg
“Strong Feelings” opens with maybe a drum machine, maybe a shaky egg and a Closer bass line and Florence Shaw’s almost subliminal Kim Gordon whisper, like an orderly talking Mark E. Smith down after an episode, and then a guitar streaks across the sky eventually culminating in a Psychedelic Furs-grade chiming refrain. In other words, Dry Cleaning has melted down the tape case of my youth to fashion a bobblehead statue of me now. A talisman so perfect it cannot be bought, only shoplifted.
The Spotify bio for this buzz band is in entirety “Dry Cleaning are a 4-piece from South London.” - understanding that to the ears of a once and steadfast phile of Anglo rock, this speaks volumes. I actually don’t know what London is like, having been there twice on vacation weekends, but this feels LONDON as I imagined it in the 80s, dreaming from my swampy backwater of trenchcoats and choruses-heavy guitars. Gray-ish, rail-skinny. Desperate yet fully catered to. “Unsmart Lady” my ass. She knows exactly what she’s up to.
Shaw’s spoken lyrics are so integrated with the band they are a texture, a mood, a gel on a footlight coloring the grind in human hues.So perfectly coupled that in “Her Hippo” when she yelps a “Ha Ha!” it’s startling. Like someone breaking a glass. Her voice is pitched right in between overhearing a drunk two stools over and the muttering in one of those BBC Beckett productions on YouTube. If you are the type who has longed for the former and watched the latter during the lockdown, Dry Cleaning is the band for you.
It is tempting to cast them as a softened Fontaines DC or an ASMR Pretenders or an updated/backdated Arab Strap or another new band who has fallen into the Anish Kapoor-like black hole of the Fall’s perpetual reissue schemes, but I am open to the idea that Dry Cleaning is largely unaware of such reference points because the connection of all the parts is so seamless. The title track explores something about things being “sometimes like this” but you feel it is always like this with them. A perfect over-pint conversation that fills the room like floodwater. The only way to not overstate is to understate.
Here is their mesmerizing performance for KEXP
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
about Alex V. Cook »»
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]