Hello Clarice are a two-piece alternative rock band hailing from Los Angeles. The group consists of Jonah Michea Judy on lead vocals and Andrew Amsden on guitar. Their music is a fusion of various alt. rock styles with elements of 90’s grunge bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden along with aspects of Radiohead, Placebo, Breaking Benjamin and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus thrown into the mix. They are far more than just the sum of the influences, achieving a unique sound of their own on this EP, their first released material.
The EP consists of five tracks and leads off with the first single, Arms of The Fall. Starting with echo-drenched guitar, a brooding musical landscape unfolds setting the scene for the distinctive and evocative lead vocals of Jonah Michea Judy.
Fans of the film Silence of The Lambs will probably recognize the line that has inspired the band’s name, and it’s a suitable moniker as there is a definite darkness to both the lyrics and the musical moods they convey. This saturnine quality gives their music a gripping edge and is captured in such sombre lines as “I think I might have set myself up for a plunge to a hopeless place.” It’s an understated but very powerful opening track and a good choice as lead single from the EP.
Second track Longshot is another memorable song with a darkly surreal lyrical vibe that makes it feel like the musical equivalent of a David Lynch film. Starting with a haunting guitar figure, the music casts a hypnotic spell with the unsettling lyrics of the chorus leaving their imprint: “Daisy wears a white plastic fox mask…..now you’re just another signature on my cast….”. It’s this kind of evocative, poetic imagery that seems missing from the modern rock lexicon but Hello Clarice pull it off with consummate style. A real grower.
The third track Anymore is relatively lighter after the sturm und drang of the first two songs, based around a chord progression on strummed acoustic guitar. However, despite the relative levity of the sound, the nihilistic refrain of the chorus shows its still very much the same band: “Maybe I don’t care anymore….”. There’s a fine build up section after the second chorus featuring strong backing harmonies.
Fourth track Abrasion also starts with acoustic guitar but that acts like a Trojan horse as this is the heaviest song by far on the EP. After an intense, claustrophobic verse it breaks out into a colossal Soundgarden-style chorus augmented by a barrage of razor-edged low end guitar chords. Jonah Michea Judy sings with a Cobain-esque conviction at the top of his range and Andrew Amsden gets to really showcase his guitar skills, from Hendrix-like funky wah wah rhythm to a fantastic guitar solo that lifts the track even higher.
Final song Wake Me is a return to their signature sound; lush lead guitar lines working in perfect harmony with the lead vocals and another anthemic, memorable chorus that brought to mind the epic high points of Pearl Jam’s Ten album, Jeremy and Alive. Lyrically, it maintains the dark romantic beauty that is one of their great strengths: “As we’re dying please pretend with me the light still burns between us in our hearts….”. A suitably poignant and cathartic ending to proceedings.
Overall, this is a hugely impressive EP that sets the bar high for the future and deserves to make a major impact on the alternative rock scene. With consistently excellent songs that run the gamut emotionally and the X factor of Jonah Michea Judy’s charismatic and compelling vocals, Hello Clarice have got everything it takes. I’d be surprised if I hear a better rock EP this year and I, for one, eagerly await future material from them.
VERDICT = 9.1 out of 10