Clockhammer "Klinefelter" CDPosted on Friday, July 10th, 2009 @ 7:11am » permalink
I've been so busy lately that preparing even three posts a week has been tough, so today I'm re-posting about the first CD I ever wrote about in the blog way back in early-2005. I have my old pal Drew "The Fucking Man" Johnston from Electro Quarterstaff to thank for this mighty gem, as his recommendations are always stellar. He threw the name of this record my way, I found it online for a buck within a couple of hours, and a few days later it was mine. Needless to say, I love it. I'm stunned that the band seems to have been criminally overlooked in their day, despite having a fairly respected reputation as musicians that seems to have stuck around, since I'm far from the first to champion their efforts some 15+ years after the fact, but that's almost always how it goes, isn't it?
"Klinefelter" was the Tennessee trio's second full-length, released in 1992, and their final output with their original lineup of Byron Bailey (guitar and vocals), Matt Swanson (bass), and Ken Coomer (drums). For anyone who cares, Coomer went on to play in Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, but for my money the buck stops with the Clockhammer material. Byron Bailey later reformed the band with an entirely new lineup (as a four-piece) and released one last record, but I haven't heard it since I'm not particularly interested without Swanson's ridiculously awesome basslines or Coomer's slick fills. Some reports had the reformed incarnation of the band residing in my hometown of Richmond, VA, but I'm not sure if that's completely accurate or not. Who knows?
Regardless, open-minded listeners should be all over Clockhammer's fusion of progressive rock and jazz that almost borders on "pop" writing sensibilities. After all, as quirky and fucked up as some of these riffs are (at a stretch you could cite a few ties to math rock or loose flirtations with metal), the material's pretty damn memorable. They've got a really smooth flow going on that tends to be kind of laidback even when it rocks out, and across the board they sound totally unique to me. I wouldn't really compare them to anyone by name. As if the gorgeous playing wasn't enough, I'm in full support of the recording, be it the appearances of beautiful acoustic guitars or just the right amount of raw bite to the distortion, or the warm resonance of the rhythm section. They definitely made damn good use of space as a trio, and some of the more prominent bass runs are quite incredible. While I'm guessing their style might take some people a few listens to truly appreciate, there's not a bad song on the entire record, and trust me – it's worth every penny. If I knew then what I know now, I'd gladly have paid full price for it, but thanks to the ignorance of the majority you tend to be able to find this gem for dirt cheap all over the place. The same goes for their debut, which I bought shortly afterwards. Don't judge 'em by their cover art, which was admittedly on the weak side. The music is impressive as hell. Not for everyone, I guess, but… give 'em a shot.
You can indeed still score this fucker for but a few bucks, and there's currently one copy available for just a penny: