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Clockcleaner - Nevermind

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Artist: Clockcleaner

Album: Nevermind

Label: Reptilian

Review date: Feb. 18, 2006

What can you say about noise rock as a lifestyle? Not the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, because what is that other than a dog wearing sunglasses. Or Richie Sambora doing charity work. This is different. This is like walking around living out Raw Power. A biker in a gang of one, without the bike. You’ve been kicked out of better websites than this one.

Here’s a preliminary list; maybe you or a friend qualify:

  • Bought up every AmRep release (and laughed at that guy who gets shot in Dope Guns & Fucking Up Your Video Deck on VHS), then sold them to buy needle drugs. Alternately, purchased and lost an AmRep Zippo lighter.

  • Are way into GG Allin and/or AntiSeen (saw GG in concert, own more than 10 bootlegs, got autographs from Merle, saw a GG-less Jabbers, etc).

  • Drink off-brand liquor out of nonbreakable plastic bottles, and not in an ironic, Chuck Klosterman-esque way.

  • Own the entire Big Chief discography, including all variants of colored vinyl and picture discs. Wrote fan mail to Motorbooty with story ideas they could use for free.

  • Own the “Faces of Death” box set, Blackest Heart video titles, pre-legal Traci Lords footage, and other “sick shit” which you foist on people who visit your home, or take with you in the hopes that whatever friends you’re hanging out with will want to drop everything to watch TV.

  • Saw the Laughing Hyenas on the “Hard Times” tour and bought a t-shirt.

  • Got the logo for any semi-obscure rock band with indie roots (other than Rocket from the Crypt or Pantera) that formed between 1989 and 1996 tattooed on your person, even if you got it covered with something else.

  • Paid over $20 for a Tad record on the guise that “it was a collector’s item” and/or you “needed it.”

  • Eat LSD before important events involving work and/or family to “get in the zone.”

  • Quit your job (told the boss stand aside) and/or got “sick of this motherfuckin’ goddamn shit.” Alternately, know from which band and song these sentiments arose from, and are at any time moments away from putting them into action.

  • Got a Derek Hess poster framed and hanging in your room.

  • Consume White Castle, KFC, Church’s, Rally’s or Domino’s Pizza as a meal more than once a week. Alternately, have an excess of Taco Bell “fire sauce” packets at home, and use them as a condiment on competing brands of fast food.

  • Believe that the lowest grade of pot your dealer offers is just fine. Better yet, your guy doesn’t even have grades. You smoke the seeds, stems, leaves, etc.

  • Have considered armed robbery just for shits and giggles.

  • Leave old back issues of Chunklet (back when Henry Owings was reprinting shit he found on the Internet) moldering in your bathroom, which hasn’t been cleaned since you moved in.

  • Do not have an email account; haven’t been online since your WebTV broke and therefore can’t kick my ass for writing this.

    What we’re getting at here is the lifestyle that celebrates music with a reckless or depraved element about it, fresh outta give-a-fucks and really in need of a mommy, or alternately a wetnurse who also gives you ca$h and cleans up all of your messes, so you can make them with that much more gusto. Alas, that person is pretty hard to come by, unless you happen to be insanely talented in your field of work in a way you could translate into a high-paying Beverly Hillbillies lifestyle, or came from enough money that it didn’t matter what you did, and were too old to get cut off. (Family looks away from you at the dinner table). (By the way, this situation is almost never true; odds are about even with winning the Powerball jackpot.) You occupy the margins between the DO’s and DON’Ts pages in Vice, because really, nobody knows what to do with you in C E 2006.

    I’m compelled to think about this guy, the guy who lights a cigarette in a museum, because Nevermind by Clockcleaner is THIS GUY’S RECORD. If he ever found it, it would be his new favorite record by his new favorite band. He’s a guy, too; not to get sexist about it, but he just is. He’s aspiring to a level of decadent Jim Dandy slob that no women aspire to. He farts in an elevator then looks at you. And it stinks.

    Eh, who am I kidding. This guy is dead and forgotten, and his stories aren’t worth repeating. Moreover, he’s softened up. Before, he was likely to get his girlfriend’s dad to pull a shotgun on him. Now, his name is Earl. But it’s a surprise to hear his music alive and well again, played by a trio of twentysomething kids from Philadelphia, and doing as good a job as the bands that inspired it … which could be anyone off the Amphetamine Reptile roster, the Jesus Lizard, Born Against, Cherubs, Mount Shasta, Arab on Radar, Sightings, Noiseville scumrock, the Monorchid, or the St. Louis worthless wave mounted by Drunks with Guns or any of their side projects.

    Clockcleaner plays relentless noise-rock dirges with no room for air and a chest-thumping dynamic, as dissonance splinters off of the heavy delay/reverb processing like broken glass from a shattered picture window. At the center of this storm is singer-guitarist John Sharkey, who spent his formative years destroying venues and pissing on their ashes while in Cleveland hardcore act 9 Shocks Terror. Sharkey’s the guy behind the effects pedals, which add artifice and annoyance in equal measure, obscuring lyrical details and segueing in between tracks with queasy smears of piercing noise. He’s also the barker in this circus, recalling Gibson Haynes and David Yow in his words and delivery. Kicking things off with the words “I saw your girlfriend leaving the abortion clinic yesterday with another man,” he sets the stage for the narrator to frame a heartsick boyfriend for a murder he didn’t commit, over a needling one-note high tension line. The tribal pound of “New Slow” throws a bone to Flipper, while the thrashy “NSA” throws the bone to Slip It In-era Black Flag. “Blood Driver” has that type of swagger the Midwest was known for in the early ’90s, and could fit with dancing in a moshpit or on a pole at a gentlemen’s cabaret.

    Onstage and off, Clockcleaner may offend the thin of skin, and with songs titled “Interview w/ a Black Man” and “Gentle Swastika” printed on the back, and paintings of deformed children on the front, they can do so without a sound. But there’s a pretty serious wink going on here, one that’s aware of crossing a boundary or breaking a confidence, and at the same time putting an angry audience on a pedestal for ignoring the problems of the real world that a moderately dangerous rock band won’t be held accountable for. Some of the best punk rock, the most forward-thinking, has also been the most nihilistic. The most downtrodden have been known to make the angriest music, the most relevant to the times. Clockcleaner is a crucial throwback to the horrors of late ’80s “don’t worry, be happy” blind consumerist optimism, and throws your own PMA back in your face like mace in the eyes of a victim on an episode of “COPS.” Nevermind is not pretty, but it works like a classic noise rock record should; it rocks hard with both middle fingers extended, staring down a dead end with a leering, maniacal grin, and that’s possibly its greatest asset.

    By Doug Mosurock

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