s-Let_It_Go_3-300×300.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”300″ />The Clarks are a Pittsburgh-based rock band that seem to have been on the edge of breaking out onto the national scene for years now. Formed in 1986 they cut their teeth playing at fraternities and bars. They’ve released 12 studio and live albums since forming, which have collectively sold nearly a quarter million copies. Their music has been featured in the Warner Bros. Summer Catch and the closing credits of The Anna Nicole Show. Admittedly Summer Catch is only rated at 4.6/10 on IMDB and 7% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s Anna Nicole, but still, that should generate some interest. In addition they’ve played on the Late Show with David Letterman. They’ve toured all across the East, Southwest, and Pacific US, but for all of that are still most popular around Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. While they might draw a few thousand attendees to shows in other areas around the ‘Burgh The Clarks can bring in a crowd of over ten thousand. This is probably in part because people in Pittsburgh often have great taste in music, but also because two local radio stations, WDVE and The X (WXDX), often play their songs.
Let It Go is probably The Clarks most successful album to date. Most of the songs on the album, such as the popular “Chasin’ Girls” and “Better Off Without You”, are energetic tracks. You find yourself tapping your foot or bouncing a knee or whatever it is you do to keep a subconscious beat. Even the more ballady songs are energetic, like they know they could just rock if they wanted to, but chose not to and if you don’t like that tough. So yes, energetic, that’s how I’d have to sum up this album if forced to pick a vague term that you can’t properly quantify (and that’s what this music review business is all about, isn’t it?). Actually, sometimes you swear you’re listening to a band that you’d hear at a college bar, only they’ve polished their material, written a lot of original songs, and gone professional. Which is exactly what The Clarks have done, so that makes perfect sense.
Now getting into some specifics just for fun: “Snowman” is the album opener. While the lyrics are intentionally vague it’s fun to
listen to with some great guitar riffs and a driving drum beat. It definitely sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“Better Off Without You” is anthemic, especially to anyone that’s broken off a terrible relationship though I think most of us can relate to that experience. It’s kind of angry, but driven and glad to be done with that stupid bitch at the same time. Take for instance the last couple lines:
“Late at night you pick up the telephone
Call me up and cry ’cause you’re all alone I don’t care
Apologize for taking my cigarettes
Now it’s time to feel all the side effects
Missing the life you had”.
“Born Too Late” is a perennial favourite. This is often one of the songs that gets people hooked on The Clarks. Released as a single it’s a retrospective song that references famous artists and figures throughout history. I know that doesn’t sound like the outline of a song that should have become a national/international hit, but once you hear it I’m sure you’ll agree.
“Chasin’ Girls” opens with lyrics I’m sure a lot of us can relate to:
“I’ve been chasin’ girls
I’ve been drinkin’ beer
I’ve been getting stoned right here”
If you’re reading this blog and are male (and sometimes female) then you’ve done that. As for the song it self, it’s basically saying “Yeah, I could be successful if I tried”. Again, been there and though that, right?
The Good: Pretty much every song on this album is well thought out and well done. There is a range of intensity from driven rock to ballads and lyrics anyone can relate too. Plus the songs are catchy.
The Bad: Some serious Clarks fans like their earlier stuff better. Might be that if you like this album you should check it out as well. Let this album springboard you into their discography.
The Verdict: Listen to the album, you’ll like it. If you don’t trust me look at the ratings on Amazon: 24 5-stars, 7 4-stars, and 1 2-star. Pretty good indication I should think. Also, if you’re outside of Pittsburgh, you can thank me for introducing you to The Clarks after they blast off onto the national stage. If you’re from Pittsburgh you can share the smugness of knowing they started here and they’ve great for years.
One last thing. Everything I’ve heard and read says The Clarks live show is even better than any album they’ve put out, and in fact the best part about the band. Unfortunately I’ve never been to one of their shows. I’d really like to someday. They play around 150 shows a year so it shouldn’t be too hard getting to one. If you can see them, my only suggestion is to do it and see what happens.