Monday, 6 February 2012

Clandestine Classic XXIII - Far Away

ClearlakeThe 23rd post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

I'll be honest, I don't know too much about the band that provide today's classic. I only have this one track by them, and I only have that because it was on the cover-mounted CD that came with March 2006's Uncut magazine. In other words, sorry - if you came here hoping to read chapter and verse on Clearlake, you're in the wrong place. All I can tell you is what I've read on their website and Wikipedia page.

Seems that Clearlake are a four-piece that formed in Brighton in 1999, comprising Jason Pegg (vocals, guitar, keyboards), David 'Woody' Woodward (bass, guitar, vocals, unimaginative nicknames), Toby May (drums) and Jim Briffett (guitar, vocals). Spot the three vocal credits? You might expect some harmonies then (and you won't be disappointed, at least with today's track). Clearlake had some early critical acclaim, but less commercial success, as so often seems to be the case. What, I wonder, is the elusive "X" factor required to transform the former into the latter? Whatever it is, it isn't pedalled by Cowell et al, but I digress. Back to Clearlake. I like to think they named themselves after the town in Iowa where Buddy Holly played his last gig and where his plane crashed on take-off, but I have no way of knowing if that's true - I just like to think it is. And they released three albums - the third, in January 2006, was called Amber and included today's classic, Far Away.

The thing is, I listen to this song, and love it, but because I don't know anything else by Clearlake, I hear other bands, other songs, other sounds. I hear influences. And I hear snippets of my music collection littered throughout the track. That's probably why I like it so much, and think is worthy of clandestine classic status. Example? I hear the drum line from Pounding by Doves. I imagine a bit of Teenage Fanclub in the vocals. I even get a bit of early Charlatans in the harmonies. I can find bits of The Real People in the guitar motifs (remember them? They might feature here one day). A little bit of Electric Soft Parade too, maybe? Whatever. I hear all these things, but have no way of knowing whether they are representative of the general Clearlake sound. All I know is that they make this track sound good.

Looking at the band's website, it seems they've been very quiet of late - in fact, the only remotely recent activity seems to be solo gigging for frontman Jason. Perhaps Clearlake have called it a day. Would this be a shame? Again, I don't know. What I do know is that you may find this link of interest (which naturally has nothing to do with me). Alternatively, you can at least enjoy today's classic courtesy of YouTube - here it is. What do you reckon?


  1. Strangely, I own the first two Clearlake albums, but didn't even know this one existed. The track you posted is a bit more upbeat than I expected. Worthy of further investigation though.