Clearance // Greensleeve
Recommended Track: Drive-Out!
Following the debut of The Sex Pistol’s Anarchy in The U.K. in 1977, The Buzzcocks released their EP Spiral Scratch. It was a good record, but Pete Shelley seemed to be consciously aping John Lydon’s vocal delivery. Later on the Buzzcocks developed their own sound. I can only hope that’s the case with Clearance, a very good band coming out of Chicago that has admirably pulled together a sound in only a year and released two EPs, this latest one entitled Greensleeve.
I like the name Clearance and the feeling created by their music. I’m a sucker for detuned guitars and ambiguous lyrics detailing a lousy life. I like it all almost as much as I like Pavement because this band is Pavement. They aren’t influenced by Pavement, they are literally a Pavement circa Slanted and Enchanted cover band. The opening track starts out promisingly, but then transmogrifies. Over the course of twelve bars, Clearance becomes Pavement, a band that for some reason is thrown into the same stable as Weezer but, unlike Weezer, had the good taste to break up when they started to become terrible. I pick the track that stands out the most as “Drive-Out!”, mainly because it sounds the least like Pavement. Not to say that it doesn’t sound like Pavement, just that it doesn’t sound uncannily like Pavement.
It’s not that any one song copies a specific chord progression from a Pavement song, it’s just the delivery, song structure and tones that are evocative of that band. There’s a fine line between influence and just being a copy-cat, and Clearance has pissed on that line while crossing it. Profusely. Unless this is actually Pavement operating under a pseudonym in which case hats off to you, this is way better than the Jicks.
On the bright side, Clearance are talented musicians with tuneful, well crafted songs. A year from now, who knows? They could go through some lineup changes, get another bassist that’s into hip hop but is kept in the band because she’s an attractive woman. I hope this band branches out, gets weirder, throws in a flute player, does acid. Make Stevie proud, and stop trying to steal his swagger.