If you haven't heard the buzz on Clinic yet, perhaps you need to check into one.
The Liverpool, England, foursome have been causing a commotion in indie-rock circles for a few years, but a Thom Yorke endorsement, enthusiastic reviews for the just-released Walking With Thee and a high-profile South by Southwest show last week (see "Long Lines For Clinic, Lynch Mob For Icarus Line At SXSW") have raised their status to, well, the next Radiohead.
On the road to San Francisco from Los Angeles, where Clinic performed Tuesday amidst the second week of a monthlong North American tour, singer Ade Blackburn humbly acknowledged the buzz.
"There's no doubt that the attention has built up quite a bit, and it is really flattering," Blackburn said. "I'm slightly worried about it, because if you have a fuss about you, you can be a flavor of the month, but I think the album stands up."
Walking With Thee, the follow-up to Clinic's acclaimed debut, 2000's Internal Wrangler, is a musical mishmash that is both haunting and catchy. Blackburn is a fan of Kid A and Amnesiac, and it shows, though the emphasis on organs and other classic instruments takes the album in another direction.
"We wanted to do it so it was less garage-based than Internal Wrangler," Blackburn said, "so we used clarinets and piano on it. We wanted it to be 11 complete songs, so I think it's a little more coherent and has more of a mood to it than our first album."
On Walking With Thee's first single, the title track, Clinic conjure up the Pixies' fuzzy guitars and simplistic vocals but spice it up with a danceable beat. Its musical mixed messages are consistent with the lyrics.
"We choose that because it's this mad party song," Blackburn said. "Lyrically, it's just fragments of things. I like the way one song can jump from one subject to the next. It seems to me to be the way things are day to day anyway. Nothing's ever that clear-cut."
Clinic formed when Blackburn and guitarist/keyboardist Hartley, then playing in a guitar band called Pure Morning, met bassist Brian Campbell and drummer Carl Turney at a Liverpool club.
"The music scene in Liverpool is quite small, so it was just through going to gigs and through mutual friends that we realized we had the same sort of approach to making music," Blackburn said. "We got talking and we had the same taste in music. It was as simple as that, really."
The band's name and its signature apparel surgical masks came out of the initial songwriting sessions. "We had a couple of songs that had medical-related titles to them," Blackburn said. "One of them was called 'Funky Hospital.' "
Clinic tour dates, according to their publicists:
- 3/21 - Sacramento, CA @ Capitol Garage
- 3/22 - Portland, OR @ Berbati's Pan
- 3/23 - Seattle, WA @ I Spy
- 3/24 - Vancouver, BC @ Richard's on Richards
- 3/27 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
- 3/28 - Chicago, IL @ The Abbey Pub
- 3/29 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Ship
- 3/30 - Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
- 3/31 - Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
- 4/1 - Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
- 4/2 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
- 4/3 - Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell's
- 4/4 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballrom
- 4/5 - Philadelphia, PA @ North Star
- 4/6 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Club