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On Second Listen: Slow Claw – Grandfather Clocks

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In the bustling sorta-kinda-not-really-Midwestern-but-rubs-shoulders-anyway city of Nashville, Tennessee, music always lives for the life of the party. From the dusky old dance halls that graze their prized country music to the cellar dweller punk rock bands that inhibit the subterranean subculture, Nashville seems to breed nothing but excellent craftsmanship all year round. Put it to you this way, if Nashville were an acoustic guitar manufacturer, Taylor would be head of the class in terms of overall quality and pristine excellence. Taking into consideration here with Nashville’s own Slow Claw, this up and coming trio blend the waves of chaotic garage rock with the gab and gift of soulful indie rock without sounding like a bunch of clowns. Sure these cats know how to put on a great show (they performed this past summer here at Ronny’s in Chicago), but the nitty-gritty of it comes down to their run-of-the-mill songwriting.

Rock trios are nothing new in the music world, but these guys pack a wallop of a sound albeit with a knifetip of minimalism and a bunch of sloppy garage flavor; you can literally see the oiled rags flying to-and-fro during their sets. From subtle whispers to clanged guitar battles, Slow Claw find that rare essence of stylistic difference meshing with substantial musical integrity. Grandfather Clocks represents an interesting journey taken by the band where it begins low and quiet until it eventually reaches their heaviest peaks within the last two tracks. The album resembles one gigantic crescendo of sonic assaults while keeping the blueprints of indie rock intact, complete with handlebar mustaches and broken down guitars.

Grandfather Clocks starts off with the creamy and intricate rocker, “Miss Lady Lately”. The bass alone dominates with its resonating tension and ability to jump in front of the drums. The guitars begin quiet and subtle, but eventually work their way to the top, especially during the chorus. With that classic garage rock sound morphed through Brooklyn-indie filters, “Miss Lady Lately” is a delightful send-up of straight rock with country fixings (the mean banjo during the chorus makes it just that much better).

What quickly starts off as a rollicking-in-the-hay hard rock album quickly dissolves into a dreary collection of mid-tempo soft rock songs “Colorado” and “Hamilton Hotel”. Don’t get me wrong, Slow Claw know how to harmonize vocally well, but it seems to be a slight departure from the promise showing from the beginning. A bit bleak and anemic at times, Slow Claw do offer shining moments as mentioned in their vocal harmonies, as well as some complicated guitar progressions that weave in and of the Nashville trio’s elegant time together. If the first tune offered a blistering ride on the back of the truck, the next few offerings have you walking down those country roads instead.

Slow Claw get it right however on the next offerings “Everybody” and the albums best one-two punch “Jackie O” and “Live FIre Exercise”. The bustling trio play back to their hard rock roots after much time down in the depths of their more elegant softer side. While the band chants “Everybody know everybody else” in “Everybody”, the guitars take the reigns and offer some subtle tensions to mount. The drumming is flawless and remains consistent with the group’s aims for musical plains. There’s even strong hints of Afro-beat influence that makes up this sound as well.

Rounding out Slow Claw’s fairly impressive debut are the crescendo-laden rockers “Jackie O” (complete with scorching guitar) and a blistering, if not truly magnificent “Live Fire Exercise.” With the steady and building of the guitars attracting the main focus, Slow Claw offer a great ending to the band’s debut with “Sprinkle Sprinke” and the finale “Self Erased”. These four songs and virtually second half of the record show true promise for a band out of Nashville willing to straddle the fine line of post-grunge indie rock meets country-tinged soul. There are a few sore spots along the way but what debut record doesn’t? Either way you cut it, Slow Claw’s Grandfather Clocks lets you wind the clock back a few notches and rock out to a handful of indie scorchers. There’s hope for this bustling trio, but for now they’re just getting started.

Check Out:
“Hamilton Hotel”

Buy:
Grandfather Clocks On Second Listen: Slow Claw   Grandfather Clocks

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