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Clinic



One of the greatest pleasures of being a rock music junkie is hearing traces of old great bands in the sounds of bold new bands which, influences or not, strike you as dynamic and fresh and exciting. Clinic is just such a band. When you listen to their arty, punk-tinged, dissonant but precise basement rock closely -- and you'll want to -- you'll probably find yourself catching the occasional stylistic reference: the woozy hallucinatory drone of Spacemen 3 and The Jesus and Mary Chain, the alienated synth-heavy moaning of Suicide and Gary Numan, the frantic garage psychedelia of The Seeds and 13th Floor Elevators, the gritty guitar-driven art-rock of The Velvet Underground and Television, the melodically astute pop contortions of Blur and Radiohead. You could compare them to a lot of bands and you'd probably be right, but the point is that Clinic doesn't duplicate anybody's style; rather, they're the fascinating and utterly unique product of a whole lot of great rock history, and with any luck, they'll be a reference point themselves in a decade or two.

Much of the Liverpudlian quartet's originality can be attributed to frontman Ade Blackburn's agile singing voice. Sometimes sweetly childlike, sometimes the delirious byproduct of a fever dream, it wraps itself around each song, defining the tone, the flavor, the agenda, the gestalt of the music, and hence of Clinic's very identity. Fortunately, the rest of the musicians are more than up to the challenge of accompanying Blackburn, contributing forceful guitar squalls, an eclectic, energizing rhythm section (which employs the occasional bongo and tin pan), dime store sci-fi synths, some simple loops and effects, and a little cheap, thick reverb for that good garage feel. That good garage feel is actually a big part of what makes Clinic interesting and exciting. They're not a garage band -- their music is far too diverse, complex, and carefully constructed -- yet there's a brevity and lack of finish to their songs that gives them the spontaneity of a vibrant live show.

All of this simple brilliance gives Clinic a sound like no other. They cover a ton of musical ground, from brutal blasts of raw garage noise to hypnotic free association drone-psych opuses to creepy nursery rhyme lullabies, but once you've heard one Clinic song, you'll recognize them every time you hear them thereafter.

Clinic debuted in 1997 after the breakup of Blackburn and guitarist Hartley's old band Pure Morning. Over the next few years, the group released a series of heralded EPs, compiled in 1999 on a self-titled album. In mid-2000, Clinic issued its eagerly anticipated and very good debut record, Internal Wrangler.