This year, psychedelic jazz-pop oddballs – BETHLEHEM CASUALS – will be wrenching minds wide-open with their brand new album.
Ambitious, inventive and plain barking mad, on 17th April 2020 the Manchester misfits will release a concept record unlike any that has come before: ‘The Tragedy of Street Dog’.
Throwing us a bone as to what to expect, today the band offer-up its first official single: “Flaccid Passion”, arriving with an aptly sleazy video ripe for its title.
For the uninitiated, Bethlehem Casuals are living 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 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 and the culmination of everything you’d ever hoped they dream up.
‘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, all 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. With a sonic smorgasbord up their sleeves, Bethlehem Casuals can veer from sounding one-moment like a brassed-off Steely Dan who’ve not only lost their number but the plot too; the next, a Madness who’ve been caught with their baggy trousers down and revelling in every moment of it.