by Sean Deveney (@autonomousnloud)
Some of the best bands I’ve come across are the ones I associate with a feeling more than a specific sound. There are lots of bands with interesting sounds, but the ones who make me genuinely feel something are the ones I will actually remember and return to.
Clasp’s “Orange Juice” on their self-titled album creates a visceral mood with the somber lyrics and the muddy-sounding guitar. Kat Bean sings “Fluorescent water is burning my tongue. I’ll walk a little further with you, but then I gotta go. I tell myself it’s alright. It’s alright. I tell myself it’s gonna be fine. It’s alright.” After seeing them in Harrisburg with Sun Organ, I looked them up as I desperately needed to hear more. This was the only song on their Bandcamp for a while, so I listened to it a lot and began viewing them as this mysterious band who only had one song recorded.
With the release of their first album, I now feel as though the mood that “Orange Juice” creates was only a small component of a larger world. “Centipede” introduces us to this world with a similar sounding guitar and vocal approach. It is slow and gradually builds in intensity all while establishing a feeling of melancholic amazement.
While “Sorry to Catch You On Your Way Out” has more of a rock vibe and increases the volume, “A Very Large Weed” follows along very similar lines to “Orange Juice.” The opening gives me chills as Bean sings “I tried to call you the last time I saw you, but I’m fenced off. I sip my coffee from my cup. We’re so messed up. This is so like us.” The guitar once again has that muddy, vibrating sound that goes perfectly with the lyrics and creates a beautifully dark and melodic atmosphere.
The songs that follow expand on this atmosphere and take it to new places. “Aramingo” has more of a fast pace while still retaining the general mood even as a pleasant riff cuts through the somber sludge. “Little God” has that familiar opening again but then gets louder and fuzzier and sounds like the equivalent of turning up the gain on melancholy itself. In fact, that pretty much sums up the mood I experience from their music. It’s like zooming in on sadness and seeing all the little details, the good and the bad. It’s a more realistic portrayal of it complete with the highs and lows.
Clasp skillfully construct this portrayal with brilliant lyrics and a guitar sound that I am obsessed with. They certainly have an intriguing sound and approach that many can appreciate, but more importantly they have the feeling and emotion that many will remember. You don’t just hear them; you feel them. And isn’t that kind of the whole point of music?