Clock Hands Strangle
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Clock Hands Strangle


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"For the Sound"

Science is so in right now. A couple of months ago, The Receiving End Of Sirens released an album that was based off of a theory by Johannes Kepler, which – to simplify – discusses harmonies taking place among planets between orbits. Clock Hands Strangle also takes on astronomy with Redshift/Blueshift. This time around, it’s much easier to explain (which is great, honestly, because I already look like enough of a nerd) – “redshift” being objects that are moving away, “blueshift” being objects moving closer together. What’s that you say? I still sounded like a nerd in explaining that? Gee, thanks. You sure know how to woo a girl.

Back on topic – the contrasting ideas suggested by the title Redshift/Blueshift carries on into the music itself, with the first half of the album consisting of acoustic tracks, the other half bringing in a full band. The full band setting, while not being a failure by any means, tends not to mix quite as well for Clock Hands Strangle – closer “Blueshift” is one of the only full band songs that stays in mind for awhile, with a slowly building guitar part that seems to sway through the song just right over the ticking beat, right up until the group vocals pour in at the end.

The acoustic portion of the album is much easier to get into, especially through tracks like “Redshift”, “My Brain”, and “Elegy For A Star”. “Elegy For A Star” brings sad horns, a light beat, and vocals that are bubbling just below the music for much of the song. “Redshift” uses a similar idea, although this time the vocals are pushed more to the forefront of the song for a storytelling tone. “My Brain” is a bit twinklier, with piano pulsing softly between vocals that are leaning further on the hushed side and a melancholy guitar serving as a connecting point for the verses.

Redshift/Blueshift is impressive in the sense that Clock Hands Strangle were willing to take on what might be considered a daunting idea so early in their career, and also handled it in a way that would be easy enough on the listener that you don’t need a degree in astronomy to understand what’s going on here. Parts of the album seem a little dragged down though, and as a result it’s very likely that many will find themselves skipping a few tracks on the second half of Redshift/Blueshift. In the future, if Clock Hands Strangle are able to focus a little more of their energy on making an album that is slightly more cohesive, it will probably do wonders for the band. In the meantime, Redshift/Blueshift is a grower in every sense of the word, so if you aren’t feeling it right away, come back and try again in a day or two.

By: Cassie Gressell -

"Music Emissions"

Here's an interesting new indie band for you. Let me introduce Clock Hands Strangle (curious name indeed) from Orlando, FL. Early in 2007 the foursome released a 6-track EP entitled Paper Flowers. Redshift / Blueshift is Clock Hands Strangle first full-length album and it is quite charming. They have that traditional "indie" feel to their music, in the vein of a more acoustic Pavement/Stephen Malkmus. You might think of an acoustic Death Cab For Cutie because Clock Hands never really get too loud. Their songs are quite laid back and relaxing. The lyrics are delivered in a matter-of-fact style without being at all forceful, like Death Cab.

On "Elegy For A Star" you think the band is going to start rocking out and it does prove to be one of the louder tracks of the mostly acoustic-based set. But it is the gentler tracks that I found to be more appealing. "Perspective" is an easy going song with some interesting guitar riffs keeping the listener attuned. This is right before Todd Portnowitz voice comes in to win you over. "Blueshift" comes off with a bit of a country twang.

Clock Hands Strangle is a good addition to the indie landscape. They should win some fans over with Redshift / Blueshift. It will also be interesting to see where these guys go from here given a little more experience. -

"Retro Low Fi"

Clock Hands Strangle is a band from Melbourne, Florida. Which technically means that they are based… well, just an hour or two from RetroLowFi HQ. We received a copy of their great new album Redshift/Blueshift in the mail recently, and I have to wonder how such great local music escaped our radars, you know? I didn’t spend too much time fretting over it, though… now we’ve got the record, and all is well.

Redshift/Blueshift is a twinkling, dual-personality record. The first half is mellow, acoustic-based and twinkling, while the second half gets a bit more raucous. There’s not really an apt comparison for these cats, so… let’s just say that everytime you think you’ve got ‘em figured out and pigeonholed, something comes along to smack the silly notion out of your head. Take the opening “Redshift” for example”. At first, it seems like it’s just gonna keep trundling along on it’s mellow indie-folk, and then… wham. The brass kicks in and the track is driven into the metaphorical stratosphere. Same goes for “Elegy For A Star”, which comes midway through the album. Sure, it starts off all sorts of sleepy and mellow… and then a rock-god electric guitar kicks in for the middle section that you couldn’t have predicted with a crystal ball.

It’s probably that type of turn-on-a-dime unpredictability that had them opening up for Do Make Say Think recently, and while I didn’t see the show, I can only imagine that the audience was gobsmacked at the constant moodshifting apparent in the songs on Redshift/Blueshift. Either that, or they simply had no choice but to swoon along to the pop laden time-signature-fest of “Photographer”. I bet these guys win over most audiences effortlessly… if they can follow what’s going on.

Redshift/Blueshift gets a bit more tangible with each listen, but one never gets totally comfortable with what the quintent is dishing out. It’s a hell of a great starting point though, and Redshift/Blueshift proves repeatedly that Clock Hands Strangle is another damn fine reason that America takes Florida’s music scene for granted. We’re not just boy-bands, Matchbox 20 and death meatl anymore! Yay! -

"Melodic (Sweden)"

With the follow-up to the band’s "Paper Flowers" EP comes "Redshift/Blueshift," the new release by Team Grizzly Records' folk rockers Clock Hands Strangle. "Relax: take a deep breath and enjoy the stillness. This young band from Melbourne, Florida will put the verve back into your everyday life," Says the bands Myspace. Which i fully agree. This album is perfect for putting on in the background and falling asleep or just relaxing. Well i guess the first part of the record.

In astronomy, the term “redshift” refers to objects moving away (hence our discovery that the universe is expanding), while “blueshift” refers to just the opposite. The way the band does this record is very unique. Instead of mixing the tracks throughout the album, its split into two different sides. Like back in the day where you had Side A and Side B. Well these guys brought that back. The first 5 songs of the record are very soulful and relaxing acoustic based tracks. Whereas, the last 5 are more upbeat with the full band and rockier.

Each song has very poem-like crafted lyrics. Most of the songs are about nature, philosophy and (most evidently) astronomy. The band draw influences from Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, John Lennon – but the quintet also stands well amidst musical peers like Modest Mouse and Wilco. Also poetically influenced by writers like Donald Justice and Elizabeth Bishop, Clock Hands Strangle brings many influences and strengths to the table.

The progressive folk quintet consists of Brian Bo, (Bass), Nick Hill (Guitar), Todd Portnowitz (Vocals, Guitar), Adam Burguet (Drums and Percussion) and multi-instrumentalist Cristian Duran.

A great album to check out. These guys are very talented musician's and they really show off their love for music and deep meaning in this collection of tunes. So sit back and relax and let the atmosphere take you over. -

"Sound As Language"

Clock Hands Strangle are an impressive indie rock band from Melbourne, Florida. Redshift/Blueshift is the band’s debut full-length. Right from the beginning, I am reminded of another eclectic Florida band that I recently reviewed, Band Marino. Both bands have an incredible talent considering their youth. However, where Band Marino’s music runs a wide spectrum, Clock Hands Strangle have a more focused and uniform approach.

Clock Hands Strangle has an endearing wayward spirit that reveals itself slowly with each listen. The band’s influences sit rather firmly out in front. Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, Death Cab For Cutie and Iron & Wine are all touchstones that come to mind when listening to Redshift/Blueshift. The album is an interesting tale of two sides. The first (and stronger) half begins with opening track, “Redshift.” This half is more acoustically-based and lyrically tells tales of loss. The second half which ends with the closing track, “Blueshift,” consists of Clock Hands Strangle’s more rock-driven material and lyrically turns towards acceptance.

The vocal and lyrical style of vocalist/guitarist Todd Portnowitz bare a striking resemblance to Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. Instrumentally speaking, Redshift/Blueshift is rich and abundant. Horns, violin, piano, and glockenspiel all make appearances here and add a dynamic quality to the band’s warm songwriting. The music creates a solid backdrop for the band’s poetic lyrical imagery. Once again, the influence of Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse is hard to ignore. Clock Hands Strangle’s lyrics seem to have that same morbid, but beautifully descriptive nature of Brock’s best material. Elements of birth, life and death litter the lyrical highway that Clock Hands Strangle travel. The album comes to end with “Blueshift,” an eight minute foot-stomper that encompasses all of Clock Hands Strangle’s many strengths. The songs between “Redshift” and “Blueshift” show a band with an incredible vision and the ability to transport the listener. Redshift/Blueshift is an album in the truest sense.

Clock Hands Strangle have scored quite a triumph here. While Redshift/Blueshift may not be for those seeking instant gratification, it is for those who appreciate albums that will stand the test of time. The album gives you something more with each subsequent listen. Clock Hands Strangle have quietly delivered a stunner of a debut with Redshift/Blueshift.

RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Built To Spill -


Charming debut album from Florida’s Team Grizzly indie folksters is a game of two halves.

Clock Hands Strangle are Florida’s latest indie folksters. ’Redshift/Blueshift,’ is the band’s self produced debut album and the follow up to the ‘Paper Flowers,’ EP released on the interestingly named Team Grizzly Records. If you like Death Cab For Cutie as I do you will immediately prick up your ears as soon as this album starts to wend its way into your consciousness. The vocals are reminiscent of Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse at his most gentle and they have the endearing weirdness of Midlake too. It’s a truly fabulous combination.

The album is a game of two distinct halves. Named after astronomy concepts, redshift refers to expansion and blueshift to contraction. As such the first few songs are acoustic and soulful and seem to deal mainly with death. The second half is crammed full of instrumental and lyrical possibilities

On ‘Cemetery,’ the singer Todd Portnowitz asks ‘what will you leave? The whole world’s our cemetery.’ On ‘Sing it!,’ Ben Gibbard could be singing over tinkling glockenspiel and strummy guitar ‘Elegy for a Star,’ is all mellow deliciousness before it builds into electric guitar frenzy part way through. By part two on ‘White Blazes,’ we are treated to bluesy doorsy guitar riffs then unexpectedly a big brass section pops up. Still the song doesn’t lose its quirky indie feel.

On ‘Photographer,’ they muse on career possibilities; beekeeper or gravedigger, before deciding ‘ got to be a photographer, gotta zoom in and zoom out.’ Interesting time signatures surround the whole affair. ‘Perspective,’ initially reminds me of The Kinks ‘Sunny Afternoon, then becomes entirely its own animal as it considers religion, nature and philosophy ‘The Hebrews say their chosen one’s just waiting for god’s truer son to show up and world peace will solve itself;’ clever stuff and all this over rich and abundant instrumentation. ‘Blueshift,’ is a lengthy country rock fest where the vocals are not dissimilar to Stephen Malkmus.

Piano, glockenspiel, horns and strings are all in attendance on this album of carefully crafted progressive folk. Like Death Cab Junior they tell their tales of daily life. good poetry, experience and human interactions in a new and interesting way. They say its an album to bring your texting fingers to a standstill, crash your myspace page and pull the plug on your television. This album must certainly be given your full attention. Without doubt Clock Hands Strangle are ones to watch out for.

by: Mandy Williams -

"Die Shellsuit, Die! (UK)"

Apparently, in astronomy the term Redshift refers to objects moving away, with regard to the theory that the universe is constantly expanding, and Blueshift refers to the opposite. This album is split into two parts; the first five songs, the Redshift section, are stripped back accoustig progressive folk, whilst the last five, Blueshift, are much rockier. It’s a brave idea for a young band with everything to prove, and one that Clock Hands Strangle pull off with room to spare.

In practice, it’s not quite so clear cut. Redshift builds up gradually to Blueshift, and whilst there is a definite change in sound, it’s not hugely pronounced. It’s not really any greater than the difference you get between songs on any album, just that Clock Hands Strangle have decided to put the songs in �noise order�, if you will. It works well though, with the first half of the album being close to bands like Iron and Wine in style, whilst the second half adds the multi instrumentalism of Summerteeth era Wilco. Redshift is more folky, whilst Blueshift adds a lot of the slide guitar of country into the mix.

Vitally important with this kind of music is the lyrics, and it’s here that Clock Hands Strangle really excel. These songs could easily stand alone as poems, and in fact it’s a real shame that no lyrics booklet is included, as it would be nice to be able to read them. It does have the effect of forcing you to really listen to the music though, which can only be a good thing. The lyrics are split between the two sections too, Redishift dealing with loss and Blueshift with acceptance. Repeat plays reward the listener with a complexity and subtlety rarely seen in most poetry, let alone in rock music.

Highly recommended.

by: Will Slater -

"Amplifier Magazine"

Concept albums are fickle mistresses. Not only must the music be spot-on, but the band must also make damned sure that the concept they’re attempting to communicate is understood and comprehended by anyone who might be listening. Thus, as technically precise and poetically rich as Redshift / Blueshift, the debut full-length from Clock Hands Strangle, might be, the concept for the album seems to languish and falter in presentation. The record is designed to be split into thematic and sonic halves, with the “redshift” being about loss and objects moving away (set to moody folk music), while the “blueshift” is about acceptance and objects drawing in (set to up-tempo rock). The unfortunate complication is that the album doesn’t seem to be split at all - the rock of the second half isn’t easily distinguishable from the folk of the first half. Just because a band uses a few more electric guitar tracks doesn’t turn a folk ditty into a full-on rock song. All of that being said, the songwriting of these Melbourne, FL natives is impeccable, with lyrics that are full of swoops and swirls, properly aligned to tight folk-pop instrumentation. In the end, Clock Hands Strangle would have been better served to set the redshift/blueshift concept aside and focus on making a flowing, cohesive album that places the actual musical content of their songs on center stage.

by: Adam P. Newton -

"SLUG Magazine"

CHS = Humble Rat + Nice Water Hostel + Kind of Like Spitting

Clock Hands Strangle has gone a long way with their first release, Redshift/Blushift, an album with complex poetry set to melody. With their trademark progressive folk style, this intriguing quintet glorified with the solid vocals of Todd Portnowitz, unveils Clock Hands Strangle’s continued growth and strikes a nerve in my eardrum and inner psyche. I fell in love with the musical composition of every song. This band has pure and utter control over their style on every track. Sometimes cold, ever so often humming, occasionally subtle, repeatedly sweet and smooth, this record stands out as one of the most progressive folk and rewarding acoustic debut albums to ever come out on Team Grizzly Records. There's a practiced, almost alert ease throughout the whole record. Depth without being deep, simplicity without being simple: it's hard not to walk away from Redshift/Blushift without a sense of great well-being.

by: Lance Saunders -

"[Modern] Romanticism"

Redshift/Blueshift - A Musical Reform

It seems, over the past month or so, every week I learn something life altering. Life altering in the such a way that I look back in retrospect and think, "How stupid was I!" (More of an exclamation than a question because I know the answer.) At that high point, I look down on the world with sudden nostalgia. "Can I move forward with my thinking?" I alter my plans in life to fulfill the new need what I just discovered.

This long weekend I was introduced to a new band. I was driving a ways so I had a chance to listen through the album several times. It struck me as something... indescribable. As endearing as Coldplay, Clock Hands Strangle's album Redshift/Blueshift gives a perfect balance to music. The first track, Redshift, is not soft instruments, nasally vocals, and sudden abrupt measures trombone, but back porch rhythms, Bob Dylan's melancholic and sweetly monotonous voice, and (also seemingly Bob Dylan inspired) suprise of instruments.

Now, when I made my way through, I noticed I needed to know the difference between Redshift and Blueshift (Redshift being the first song and Blueshift being the last (track 10)). I did a little google action. The album is split in half. The first half is Redshift: things coming closer or approaching, or something my wee little brain may not understand. The second half is Blueshift: things departing. At first I was thinking, "Wait a second, shouldn't Blueshift be the sixth track?" Because as I have learn from Bruce Springsteen, it does matter what order you put your songs. But then I thought about it. Blueshift is the last song. The eight minute composition is valets to the travelers. It has to be in the end.

As I write this quest for my understanding of raw music (and break all the 10th grade English rules or writing) my brain realizes what Redshift is. It's a journey (much like the one I'm taking) sought by seekers. It is not repetitive nor redundant, it is once again Bob Dylan. He doesn't know where he's going or where he's been, but he goes. He travels and comes together through passion.

I don't like doing this, but I must. The sound of it reminds me of Ska meets Back Porch meets Alternative meets Jazz (all of it very nostalgic and melancholic, teasing my weekly reform). The whole astronomically inspired thing makes me want to start categorizing my music by muse again.

Back to Coldplay. X&Y is also split into too parts. The first half is X and the second half is Y. I think the simple difference is the mood of the song. But knowing Coldplay, it is probably the mood reflecting upon the lyrics. Much to tired to evaluate Chirs Martin, I fail to reach the answer. But Y seems to have much more of a "hopeful" tone. Anything to do with chromosomes? Scientific, but I think I marked that off my list.

I may be reading way too far into this, but listening to this music over and over again, and making my friend listen to it (she liked it, by the way), has brought me to evaluate the music I listen to religiously. This will be my 3rd reform of the year. Thank you astronomical insight. -


* Paper Flowers EP (extended version) - 2005
* Paper Flowers EP re-release - 2006
* Redshift | Blueshift - 2007 (debut full length)
* Distaccati - JANUARY 2009




***Clock Hands Strangle has completed their second full-length, "Distaccati," to be released nationally in May 2009--the band is carrying limited edition copies with them on tour now. "Distaccati" is at once a natural and perplexing progression from the band's debut full-length, "Redshift/Blueshift," with bolder, more polished songwriting and well-studied lyrics. The album casts the listener as a pilgrim, who must trek--through an infernal outer-space, guided by Walt Whitman; through New York City and an Alabama cotton field; across an arid desert and a frozen desert--to the final track.

You can preview three songs from "Distaccati," on this EPK--the album's title track, "A Stone Questions its Sculptor," and "The Moon Looks Back."***

Formed in 2004 in Melbourne, FL, Clock Hands Strangle has been refining their thoughtfully-crafted, lyric-driven music for five years--the result are precise compositions that, with repeat listens, reveal a rewarding complexity to the listener.

In a review of "Redshift/Blueshift," Amplifier magazine referred to the songwriting of Clock Hands Strangle as "impeccable, with lyrics that are full of swoops and swirls, properly aligned to tight instrumentation." While many were quick to label the debut a concept album, thematic would be more apropos. The difference being that singer/songwriter, Todd Portnowitz, is incapable of penning lyrics without poetic introspection and philosophical flourish, making every verse a proposition, every line a reflection.

Tour History includes two extensive tours of the eastern half of the U.S., two tours of the east coast, a brief Florida tour with Do Make Say Think, and a showcase at the 2008 South by Southwest. In the months between January and May, Clock Hand Strangle consistently charted in the CMJ top 200, peaking at #50--an uncommon feat for a debut independent release.