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Spiritual Cramp
30.08.2024

© Anthony Scanga

Spiritual Cramp is what happens when you treat the English Beat’s “Mirror In The Bathroom” as a guide for living. Spiritual Cramp is what happens when you argue that Mick Jones was the best Clasher, at first just to annoy the older punks, but eventually you realize you meant it all along. Spiritual Cramp is what happens when a band has never read Nietzsche and stares too long at the rude boys. Spiritual Cramp is what happens when Tony Manero and Richard Ashcroft strut into each other on the sidewalk, coming from opposite directions, and both refuse to give way. Eventually they kiss, roughly at first but with increasing tenderness. At the three minute mark, they stop and part as exes, with memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Spiritual Cramp may chafe at the fanciness of the above description. Spiritual Cramp describe themselves as a punk band. If pressed, they’ll describe their sound as “Fast down strokes. Upstrokes. Reggae inspired. Hip hop production. Big loud stage show. Ferocity, but reigned in, and played on small amps.” Which is accurate, as far as that goes, especially when they cite both Tom Tom Club and The Strokes as influences. It at least indicates that Spiritual Cramp—as much as they’re punk or hard mod—is at heart a dance band. Like The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Kaiser Chiefs (first two albums only), Turnstile, and the Murder City Devils are all dance bands. Or maybe a dance band like if LL Cool J had kept his live band and taken Mama Said Take You Out on the road as an Oi! band. Point is: whatever Spiritual Cramp may claim to reign in, this remains body music.

In the same vein, Spiritual Cramp’s self assessment also fails to mention that, years before the current nü Oi! Revival, Spiritual Cramp was bringing back gang vocals as pop, and popping moped wheelies in DIY parking lots from coast to coast. And anyone who has seen the SF band, since their inception in 2016, knows that they are a fancy band; stylish, impressively reeking of charisma, and fully aware that “show business” without the “show” is a grim business indeed. And they know as well as any punx that life is grim enough. Even if one subscribes to a Cock Sparrian belief in the inevitability of the wall, that doesn’t mean either the shooter or shootee needs to look uncool for the duration of that last cigarette. So Spiritual Cramp are fancy in the same way that The Untouchables (the band, but also the movie) and Talulah Gosh were fancy. Ruggedly fancy in the way Blur were fancy when Oasis forced them to go to the gym and affect a fondness for football. In the way that skinheads are fancy when they attend a funeral, a wedding, or a Paul Weller concert. At least that’s what the music sounds like; like the band just wiped the shit off their shitkickers, just wiped the blood off their Oxbloods, hopped on their lil’ baby motorcycles, and made it to the chapel just in time to marry their super hot sweetheart, who’s only gotten hotter since she/he/they got that Crisis tattoo covered up.

None of this is to say that Spiritual Cramp’s self-titled debut (after numerous EPs and a Deranged Records released compilation of early 7”s) is in any way a purely stylish affair. The fragile honesty of bands like Shop Assistants inform the work heavily, in both guitar and lyrical themes. Even from the band’s beginnings, Spiritual Cramp was about, in part, “acting like loud assholes, but really you’re just projecting your own insecurities and taking up space because you want to be seen.” The songs on the new album are heavy with this self-interrogation, even when delivered via two and a half minute bounce house thrill rides. When not tunefully raging/ranting about riots, killer cops, and societal decay, singer Michael Bingham is going deep and lacerating on his own sense of inadequacy, complicity, and an overwhelming inclination towards cutting off his own nose to spite every face in the bar. There’s also a gloriously sweet and bracingly lovely song (“Herbert’s On Holiday”) about how the singer’s sad-sack-of-shit life was saved by his wife (who, to be clear, has never, as far as I know, ever had a sketchy tattoo to cover up). All together, the album is ten tracks of jagged bubblegum (like Bazooka Joe if it tasted good and had funnier comicstrips), which sound huge and propulsive, but not in a way that feels forced or even overly intentional. With the added benefit of also feeling true. With the onset popularity of various and sundry tuff-boy guitar rock, it can be difficult to separate the real ones from the next-Turnstile strivers, but Spiritual Cramp’s place within a gritty and sweet rock and roll tradition—that started with The Standells and Eddie Floyd’s “Big Bird,” was reborn in 1977, and has been maintained by bands ranging from Supergrass to Algiers to Chubby and The Gang—is unassailable. The sound is accessible, ready for the big stage, but with a sly sneer befitting the absurdity of modern life, and a casual integrity that would make Joe Strummer’s patented Bullshit Detector™ rub up against Spiritual Cramp’s slim fits and purr.

Spiritual Cramp is Michael Bingham (vocals), Michael Fenton (bass), Jose Luna (auxiliary percussionist), Jacob Breeze & Nate Punty (guitars), and Julian Smith on drums. Spiritual Cramp was produced by Bingham and Fenton, with additional production by Luna and Carlos De La Garza (m83, Paramore, Best Coast, The Linda Linda’s) who also mixed the album. It was mastered by Dave Collins and engineered by longtime friend and collaborator Grace Coleman, at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco.

 

Event auf den Merkzettel

Tickets

Datum / Beginn Location Ort     Stamp
2024-08-30Fr 30.08.2024 20.00 Uhr BADEHAUS Berlin   Tickets ab 23,70 €
Tickets
Spiritual+Cramp|2024-08-30|20:00:00

Die angegebenen Preise sind Kartenendpreise inkl. gesetzl. MwSt., inkl. Vorverkaufsgebühr, ggf. Bearbeitungsgebühr, bzw. Ticketsystemgebühr zzgl. Versandkosten.


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