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Free Reign: Clinic Holds the Reins May 28, 2013

Filed under: CD Reviews — NVMP @ 9:04 PM
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Review by Hoverbee

Clinic--Free-Reign-album-cover

In what seems like another lifetime, while record shopping, I was mesmerized by the music being pumped out of the record shop’s speakers.  It grabbed me and brought me on a curious journey before setting me back down on earth.  Entranced, I wandered to the clerk to inquire “Who is this band?”  “Clinic,” he said.

I bought the album Walking With Thee on the spot.  I took it home and played it until I knew every note and had discovered all of its hidden secrets.  After much consideration of a friend’s upcoming birthday, I was convinced this album would be the perfect gift and had been prepared for the album to simply blow her mind.  I did not receive the reaction I expected.  “Every song on the album sounds the same.”  Oh, how I was plagued by this wretched way of thinking!  The beauty of Clinic is their ability the create variations on a theme.  The influence of experimental jam sessions, psychedelia and jazz in the music is what many listeners find attractive.  Look at “Echoes” from Pink Floyd’s Meddle which is essentially one long song that comprises the entire second side of a vinyl record.  Some of us don’t mind if an album sounds like one long song.

On Clinic’s seventh studio album Free Reign, songs like “Seamless Boogie Woogie BBC 10pm (rpt),” “Miss You,” “King Kong” and “You” embody this idea of musical freedom and the spirit of exploration.  The prominently featured wah-wah pedal of 2010’s Bubblegum, a departure from their original sound, is all but gone except for the track “Cosmic Radiation.”  It seems that while Clinic has abandoned their previous attempt to assuage the critics and change their sound in favor of what they do best and what some of us truly love about them, they have not lost the courage to experiment with the music.  Pshaw to those that say Clinic are trapped or tied to a sound and have become stagnant.  Clinic has instead achieved an equilibrium performing a balancing act by managing to remain experimental yet maintain their definitive sound.

For those fans who insist that Free Reign apparently still lacks the gritty raw energy that Clinic creates so well there is Free Reign II, a mix of the album by Daniel Lopatin (a.ka. Oneohtrix Point Never.)  Either way, I’m still as mesmerized and entranced as that day long ago in that record shop.

 

Clinic @ Le Poisson Rouge on 4/20 May 19, 2013

Filed under: Concert Reviews — NVMP @ 9:06 PM
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Review by Hoverbee

Clinic1A long, long way from Liverpool, Clinic kicked off the 6th show of their 2013 tour in support of their new album Free Reign at 158 Bleecker Street, New York, NY.  Taking the stage in full Clinic fashion sporting surgeons face masks, Ade Blackburn’s with a small hole cut in the center for singing, amid colorful lighting, Clinic became a reality to me.

The intimate setting of Le Poisson Rouge provided the audience with the sense that they could touch the band.  The feeling hummed through the enthusiastic diversely aged crowd.  All in attendance were enveloped in the music, many dancing and singing along.  The band was fantastic live and it was wonderful how great they sounded.  It was as though we were inside a rolling locomotive.  They played a well-balanced set list with the songs “Miss You,” “See Saw,” and “You” from the new album, “Orangutan” and “Lion Tamer” from Bubblegum, “Tusk” and “Children of Kellogg” from Visitations, “Walking with Thee” from the same titled album and a few songs off their early EPs.  Far be it from me to argue with Clinic’s set list choices, but I very much longed to hear them play “Harvest (Within You)” and “If You Could Read Your Mind” also from Visitations.    Ah…the longing continues.

Not counting that small hiccup, overall it was a very satisfying show.  Well done Clinic!  Being that I was seeing the band for the first time, I was unaware that they are known for notoriously short shows (about 25 min) and early in their career for never doing encores.  The show was way too short for a Clinic junky like me, but the band did come back out and do three more songs.  However, these songs do appear on the set list.  Perhaps it’s a “faux encore” done to psychologically lengthen the show and make fans happy.  Either way, I sparked like a match when they returned to the stage.  After the show, I hung around and tried to snag a copy of the coveted set list, but to no avail.  I did, however, meet a nice couple from Toronto who not only got a set list, but were seeing the band again when they returned home.  The nice Canadian gentleman was quoted as saying, “We’re seeing them in three days, but we just had to see them in Greenwich.”  Lucky lollies!  The couple then let me snap a picture of their set list with my phone.  Much thanks to them and to the band for making it a glorious 4/20!

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Clinic Pops December 15, 2010

Filed under: CD Reviews — NVMP @ 8:07 AM
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Review by Hoverbee

Known for the use of vintage instruments, Ade Blackburn’s high-pitched mumbled vocals and 60’s psychedelic influences, Clinic has carved out their own definitive sound.  However, these four lads from Liverpool have long been accused of generating a sound too similar from album-to-album.  After 13 years of doing what they do, it seems the band has finally created an album to put a stop to those kind of comments.  Clinic’s sixth release, Bubblegum, still has a lot of the same elements from previous albums, yet takes the sound in a new direction.

The band has dropped its raw, gritty and edgier sounds in favor of more mellow, dreamy and pop ones.  They’ve reduced the amount of keyboards/organs and added more violins, not to mention copious amounts of wah-wah pedal.  Songs like “Baby” and the single “I’m Aware” demonstrate this shift toward a more gentle Clinic.  The new gentle Clinic and the old edgy Clinic meet and mate on tracks such as “Evelyn” and “Milk & Honey” giving birth to multifarious, hybrid tunes.  To really mess with your mind, they added tracks like “Radiostory” and “Un Astronauta En Cielo” which are a complete departure from the original sound, with the former entirely ditching Blackburn’s well-known vocals in favor of a spoken-word narration by the band’s photographer Jason Evans and the latter being an instrumental influenced by a Brazilian art movement called tropicalia.  Don’t despair, the tracks “Lion Tamer” and “Orangutan” are straight up, unadulterated Clinic.

The band has manged to toss it up without throwing it away.  It’s a new sound for them, but still undeniably unique and Clinic.  Longtime fans will not be completely beside themselves with the changes, as we have heard the more melodious side of the band here and there throughout the years.  It’s a great album and we aren’t disappointed, but deep down we want them to do what they’ve always done.  New fans, however, may find this album more accessible than older ones, adding to the band’s fanbase.