Slow Claw
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Slow Claw

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Band Rock Alternative

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Though I’m not a believer in the notion that “there’s no truly original music being made anymore,” I can recognize a truly unique aesthetic when I hear one. And that’s just what I hear all over the debut album from Indie trio Slow Claw, Grandfather Clocks. The group formed out of the ashes of Junior Revolution, a more driving, hard-guitar-based band, and while fans of that band will recognize the emotive vocals and passionate delivery, Slow Claw is its own fantastic beast.
Recorded in South Carolina with Joel T. Hamilton of The Working Title, Grandfather Clocks is a collection of fractured Pop songs with unique rhythms, slanted chords and an overall sense of arrangement that is impressively sporadic and unpredictable. Slow Claw has an imaginative approach to the use of space in their songs, layering the tracks with simple, hovering sounds that combine to create something intimate and often oddly ethereal. Though loaded with subtle hooks, the band’s music eschews the repetition of Pop music for something more fluid and stream-of-conscious.

On “Colorado,” a light, almost jazzy guitar progression is met with an explosive drum line, twilight xylophone twinkles and earnest, passionate vocals and harmonies. Opener “Miss Lady Lately” is the CD’s most traditionally “rockin’” track, with sideways guitar and a more traditional “soaring chorus,” but it also contains an unanticipated banjo part that somehow doesn’t sound completely out of place. The drums lead the way on “Sprinkle, Sprinkle,” taking an almost lead role that winds and thumps along the song’s dynamic path. Like much of the record, the track feels like it was written as a straightforward Pop song, then completely dismantled and reimagined.

Slow Claw hosts a CD release show Saturday at Northside Tavern, joined by White Girls and The Guitars. (myspace.com/slowclaw) - CityBeat


Slow Claw left the fold of beer driven American bar music to form a 3-piece in support of a song against the flow of commercial pop. They are alternative with quality in the intervals intact from progressive rock but — and this is important! — all in service to the lyric worth hearing. The combination of psychological folk song insight on a bed of blues-based alt. pop should drive this band to critical success, though the clock is ticking whether audiences pickled in PBR will recognize music hurt into poetry by the cloying pound of the bar band shuffle championed by venues dependent on the tab. With bass lines lifted in a Roundabout way from "Yes," a guitar sound shifting in phase and timber from electric box altered power to waltz-time acoustic folk, and trap drums worthy of Waits' classically trained percussionists: This trio offers more than audiences raised on the popular pabulum on Clear Channel or current A&R men bargain for in cadence and cascade worthy of notable predecessors. This band is a Rorshack test to weed out the last of the listeners from the herd in the tradition of Blind Faith, The Cars, The Kinks, or current uncompromised innovators Madame Hooligan and Pedestrian. Grandfather Clocks ignores the bankrupt music industry edicts by panderers to popular taste to deliver a purer product. This band has abandoned the formulaic "crème filled" Twinky tagalong tripe for something closer to the original Cream. I endorse this band.

This is the first time as a three-piece for each of us and, at first, it was challenge to figure out the best way to arrange our songs. The less is more approach is very powerful when used correctly. Often, we would write the song, then deconstruct it, then put it back together, but without certain pieces. By creating spaces and holes in the songs, you can really direct the listeners attention to whatever you chose. I'm not sure if we got all the details right, but we got enough of them right to satisfy ourselves. Our biggest accomplishment was in not overloading the songs--just maintaining a cool balance that carries them. Back to the whole three-piece bit--it forced us to work on our dynamics. The softer we could get on one part, meant we could really crash into the next one if we wanted to, and vise versa.
~ Rob from Slow Claw

Three guys from a successful band reform as a three-piece to do "what the hell" good music, regardless of what they know works or might hit the charts with a bullet. This approach is rarer than you might think. Musicians gotta eat, so they will play "Free Stairway to Rocky Top Heaven Bird" for a buck any day of god. Can't blame them. What would you do if you had to appeal to the lowest common denominator at your place of business in order to get a paycheck? Get it? Takes courage to offer art in the marketplace, where trends mean money and nothing else succeeds at all. Hats off to Slow Claw. The album supports each of Rob's bold and honest declarations about this band.

Most of the Slow Claw fans are friends of ours, either locally where we grew up or lived at one point, or friends we've met through touring with previous bands in different cities and states. We just built around those core people--have them bring their friends to the show. We like friends of friends. All of the fans are music lovers, some are actual musicians, but most are just people who really enjoy seeing live music and can appreciate what we're trying to do. We put out a lot of energy when we're onstage and if you're being honest in the way you do that, it is transparent and the crowd will respect you for it. I'm not sure what kind of conversation you would have with a Slow Claw fan, but if you do, you should have it before we're done playing because they might be drunk by then, ha. Only half-kidding.
~ Rob from Slow Claw

I once read this review critical of Elvis Costello and The Attractions for playing that "perfect pop" they have become known for. What a thing to complain about! Jeessh! I don’t write negative, but there's a heap of perfect pop on Grandfather Clocks. The bass takes on an active role as 1/3 of the sound for all the world as spot on as the bass line in Roundabout by prog. rock royalty "Yes." I think Slow Claw's drummer is on the level of Michael Jerome or Deacon in Los Angeles. He plays the skins and cymbals like he was brought up on percussion symphonies and jazz, then headed out to add a little nuance to the pop scene. Then there's a singer and guitar player, whose connection with the songs propels his noodling straight to the heart of the song whether acoustic or whatever electric effect sounds best. All masterpieces are personal statements, and each of these songs is detailed, crafted and personal. "Shorty" drives him home. There is nothing generic and no nonsense. Folk song detail takes pop home where everybody is from but very few pop songs hail from this territory in the soul. Every Hank William song comes from this special place, so you know what landscape I'm referring to. Perfect pop coming from home where a real guy is telling a familiar story just a little deeper than you've heard before is a good way to write a tune in my opinion. Pop is after all a subset of folk with some added technique most all the time.

I love all types of art, writing and music. Favorite painter is Jacque Louis-David--he was able to put a seriousness into one moment of time (see his Death of Marat). I also like Rubens for his colors and motion and early Rembrandt, because of his use of chiaroscuro (contrast of light and dark). It's a concept that translates well into music.
~ Rob from Slow Claw

I have no clue if Grandfather Clocks will be popular, but I would love to live in a culture with that kind of taste. The idea almost makes me weep. Can this be that kind of world? Have we filled our quota on the radio for music possessed of intrinsic value? Clear Channel would rather play the new Franz Ferdinand than venture into music that matters. Slow Claw may be taking liberties the way Slow Hand Eric Clapton doesn't seem to care to pander to popular taste. I think they have cut the crap, dispensed with the common wisdom, and done the best they could to make these songs mean something. I find no fault with this album. If everybody who reads this review did the unlikely thing and bought this album . . . Then tell two friends about them . . . It could be a conspiracy of good taste . . . in time we would be a movement . . . the world could become a very tasteful place into which to present the best mankind has to offer . . . the music business could become a meritocracy. Clear Channel would fold from lack of interest.

When I first started touring when I was 19, I brought On The Road by Kerouac. It was the perfect novel for how I felt at the time, and I guess in someways the songs on Grandfather Clocks are in a similar vein--many of them written about times I had in other places on my travels. I really love American Gothic authors and poets. The storytelling is quintessentially American--dark tales of a superstitious Nature, yet there is always a pinch of irony and humor. Songwriting is storytelling and I try to the best I can.
~ Rob from Slow Claw

Grandfather Clocks by Slow Claw is a diamond in a dime store. The stories are simple, the presentation is achievable but for it's uncommon depth of feeling. These songs are personal statements with the details left in. All masterpieces are personal statements. The Mona Lisa was painted on commission. Guernica was painted out of outrage by one man. Grandfather Clocks is a good deed in a naughty world. It's a gift. W.H. Auden said it, "Only your notes are pure contraption / Only your song is an absolute gift." How long has it been since you heard one of those? The songs are described below according to what I felt while listening, inaccurate to your heart but right as rain to me. You can skip the details, do the decent thing, and give a listen to Slow Claw. Songs are the property of the listener. You are in control. Take a listen.

As far as musical influences, your guess is as good as mine. I rarely write songs having a certain band or genre in mind. My brain is a melting pot of what I've listened to--70's pop, blues, jazz, classical and orchestral music from my trumpet days in high school, 90's post-punk, folk, Americana, alt-country. I just grab certain parts and use them when I feel they're necessary. I will admit, I wish I could write a song as good as Jeff Tweety.
~ Rob from Slow Claw

It takes courage to go for the indefinable good in an industry gone for the gold. There is virtue in supporting a band who have abandoned the "how low can you go" trend in Orwellian pursuit of the lowest common denominator. H.L. Mencken nailed this fact in his aphorism: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Ah, but there are a few good men and women bucking the tide. Slow Claw, Alex Chilton, Chapa, Matthew Shelton, Rieser, Ardentjohn and Madame Hooligan are a few of the good apples in the rotting bunch. If you are spoiling for something fresh, Slow Claw is worthy of your patronage. This band is cool.

Slow Claw is currently living the dream in Nashville, i.e. sharing a two-bedroom apartment, eating a ton of rice (cheap) and trying to write songs for a full-length record. It's really not too bad, we're giving music an honest go around and bustin' our asses, and as long as we do that, then we can be content with whatever happens in the future. And we do a bunch of touring so people should make sure to check up and see when we'll be hitting up their town.
~ Rob from Slow Claw

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=56379998&blogId=503008535 - Billys Bunker


You'll get not one, not two, but three chances to see this Cincinnati band! This is the first time I recall entering three shows in one day for any band in our calendar. Slow Claw will warm up with an acoustic show at Borders around 3 p.m., head downtown for another acoustic show at Ciné around 6:30 p.m., and close the night with a full-on rock show at Caledonia Lounge. The trio features pop-oriented rock songs with emotive vocals and intricate, inventive guitar textures. Slow Claw just released a record called Grandfather Clocks which was engineered by Joel T. Hamilton of The Working Title. (Borders/Ciné/Caledonia, Thursday 14) - Flagpole


Don’t let Osama bin Laden and Evil Spock fool you. Beards are a force for good. The Cincinnati rock trio Slow Claw knows this. And you should too. “Beards will always be a force for good — unless they’re pencil-thin, chinstrap ones. Those are pure evil,” says guitarist Rob Barnes. His partners in rhyme are Chris Denholm on drums and Brian Miller on bass. And together they rock out clubs and facial hair. “Right now, Chris and I have healthy ones that we started a few weeks back, and Brian is actually participating in Moustache May.” The band is touring behind Grandfather Clocks, an eight-song collection produced by Joel T. Hamilton of the Working Title. “We recorded Grandfather Clocks over a period of 10 days in Charleston,” Barnes adds. “It was a quick pace, but we were sleeping at Joel’s house and were able to wake up in the morning, make breakfast, and start working. We love coming through Chucktown, so being there for a week and a half was like a mini-vacation. It kept us relaxed, and we were able to create a very natural-sounding record.” But perhaps something better came out of those recording sessions than Grandfather Clocks, a straight-ahead rock record with dashes of neo-folk and a subtle hint of proggyness. Barnes says, “We never took ourselves too seriously, and there is a great YouTube video of us all — Joel included — beat-boxing on one of the songs.” —Chris Haire - Charleston City Paper


"Slow Claw is Chris, Brian & Rob," reads a friendly, if uninformative note on the back of the band's debut album, Grandfather Clocks, which consists of eight tracks running 30 minutes. If the note does not tell much, it at least establishes that Slow Claw is a trio, and that is also apparent on the album, which features guitar/bass/drum arrangements that demonstrate the bandmembers have developed a rock style to deal with their instrumental limitations. This is not a power trio in the Cream or Jimi Hendrix Experience sense, but rather a rock trio as kinetic, light-on-their-feet dueling soloists, more in the manner of the Police or the Jam. The drummer in particular is reminiscent of the Police's Stewart Copeland in his combination of ferocity and restraint. Above the music, a lead singer recalls the bleating tenor of Jerry Garcia, if with a slightly huskier edge. Two songs, "Colorado" and the closer, the plaintive "Self Erased," boast an acoustic guitar, and sometimes there are other instruments and even a studio full of partying singalong guests at one point. But Slow Claw is more about the interaction of the three musicians at this point than it is about anything else. The songs are excuses to play together, but this is a debut that shows promise.

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:hzfexz8aldte - All Music


Discography

Grandfather Clocks - Feb. 2009

Photos

Bio

With touches of rock, folk, progressive and pop, Slow Claw seamlessly move between, and blend together different genres. In the end it is about creating good songs—songs with grooves, melodies and rich textures that will keep the listeners singing along, even after they’re done with the record. The essence of Slow Claw, though, is captured in their live performance. The music moves the audience through the entire set—taking them from subtle lows to passionate highs in a stream-of-consciousness approach that leaves them wanting more. Before they realize it, the band is handing them percussion instruments and encouraging them to play along with them as one collective musical entity.

In January 2009, the trio traveled to Charleston, SC, to record their debut release, Grandfather Clocks, with Joel T. Hamilton of The Working Title. Drawing from years of musical experience, they were able to capture the raw sound of their live shows without losing the clarity of their song craft. Slow Claw’s pulsing rhythms and addictive grooves push and pull the listener—moving them at their will. Never ones to take the songs too seriously, the guys recorded their first-ever beat-boxing part, for the track, “Everybody”. Along with the hilarious video documentation of the event, the part perfectly sums up the theme of the song—a semi-chaotic scene between friends having a good time.

In an effort to keep their friends, fans and family informed while on the road, Slow Claw created a blog to document their process. They enjoy sharing their experiences and travels and you’ll always find them online—getting work done and staying connected with their different circles of friends. With a full schedule of touring and creating music ahead of them, Slow Claw looks forward to bringing new fans into the fold. Much like their live show, they are always encouraging people to get involved—whether it be with a shaker, tambourine or a couch to crash on.