There it is, in black and white, printed on the front cover of the Cynics ' fantastic new record, Living Is The Best Revenge (Get Hip Recordings): "File under: garage." The instruction is both a sly nod towards retro-cool package design and a defiant statement of purpose. It's good to see that the Cynics aren't shy about using the "G" word. Even though the sheer number of bands trying to hop on the Strokes/Stripes/Hives bandwagon have almost rendered the genre classification meaningless, the Cynics have been around long enough to have weathered a half-dozen "Return of Rock & Roll" hypes and "Garage Rock" booms and busts. Their secret? Being the best goddamn garage band in the world.
Musically and spiritually, the Cynics draw inspiration from great R&B-influenced pre-psychedelic Brits such as the Yardbirds, the Small Faces and Van Morrison's Them, although the long shadow cast by American garage-psych legends the 13th Floor Elevators cannot be denied. The band covers the Elevators' classic "She Lives (in a Time of Her Own)" on the new record, and singer Michael Kastelic's voice on the album-ending "Shine" is so similar to that of Elevators' singer Roky Erickson that you can't help but double-check the liner notes. The fact that the truly great Cynics are not better known outside of the rather insular garage community is a scandal. With any luck, your mandatory presence at the Duck Room this Saturday night will be a first step toward correcting this oversight.