Chicago and New Orleans piano blues get a shot in the arm and Tin Pan Alley gets the hot-rod treatment, while ’60s pop-soul and French Yé-yé make ravishing returns on the The Claudettes‘ second Yellow Dog Records album NO HOTEL.
Chicago piano crusher Johnny Iguana (who has pounded keys for Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and rock cult heroes oh my god) and absolute wacko Michael Caskey (who has drummed with giddy glee for everyone from Chuck Mangione to Balkan fusion band Eastern Blok) make even bigger waves with the bravura instrumentals on NO HOTEL than they did with their 2013 debut Infernal Piano Plot…HATCHED! (“Like Keith Moon chasing a crazed, punked-up Little Richard” —Blues Music Magazine).
Piano licks inspired by Otis Spann, Mose Allison, Ray Charles and Bobby Timmons meet Minutemen’s “jam econo” ethos and Meat Puppets’ trippy echo as the band packs 16 tracks into the sonic whirlwind that is NO HOTEL. And at the eye of the hurricane: a mid-album set of sultry vocal songs sung in English and French by the band’s mesmerizing new member, Yana.
Though just 24, Nigerian-American vocalist Yana recalls Josephine Baker and Eartha Kitt. An alluring singer/dancer on stage, decked out in stunning dresses, jewelry and head wraps, Yana brings her seductive powers to the studio here. She casts a spell with the throwback ’60s pop-soul (punctuated by a grinding blues-rock bridge) of She’s So Imaginary, then puts her own authoritative stamp on hand-picked ’60s French Yé-yé classics.
With NO HOTEL (named after the cruel phrase that appeared on the band’s most deflating venue contract offer yet), the Claudettes use drum sticks, piano hammers, style and swagger to strut from vintage landmarks to someplace new.