If I wasn’t a sucker for fuzzed out sonic bliss – and bands, songs and albums that are driven more by passion than musical ability – I wouldn’t have agreed (read: jumped at!) the chance to take over writing “Lo-Fi Mojo” from the estimable Mojo Flucke. As fellow aficionados of classic garage rock and its myriad offshoots, the good doctor and I have long traded lo-fi nuggets anyway (pun intended, natch), so I was a natural to step into his outsized shoes. Don’t worry, Mojo fans…he’ll continue penning Mojo’s Cold Shot and other features.
I’m also going to use the opportunity to expand the definition of “lo-fi” to whatever suits me, of course. Which leads me to the subject of this edition of Lo-Fi Mojo.
For most people even aware of the group, Clinic was over and done with either after they toured with Radiohead in 2001, or after receiving a Grammy nomination for their second album, 2002’s Walking With Thee. To a certain extent, I understand the post-hype abatement of the critical tongue-wagging – their low-key, garage-punky sound hasn’t changed much since then, and yes, they’re still wearing those damn surgical masks. Not much new fodder for the near constant noise culture of a million bloggers blogging about the new next big thing. I get it.
I guess I’m a little less inclined to give up so quickly on bands, sounds or styles that mean something to me. Clinic has always surprised me with the eclecticism of their supposedly one-dimensional approach. I’m also continually surprised at how I can continue to find new layers of sonic meaning in songs that sound so basic. Case in point, the latest single from Clinic’s 2008 album Do It!, “Tomorrow.” A basic, almost bluesy acoustic guitar riff with a meter that’s hard to pin down leads into a simple arrangement of kick drum, harmonica (or melodica? some kind of keyboard sound?), a oddly-tuned electric guitar for counterpoint, and Ade Blackburn’s uniquely identifiable slushy vocals. It’s not much…but like the best of Clinic’s understated and raw music, it’s enchanting in a way that’s hard to put your finger on.
And if you need your sonic fuzz more updated than that, there’s always “Tomorrow (DFA Remix),” which isn’t exactly lo-fi (for my tastes at least), but hey, the kids seem to dig it. It also shows how, in the right hands, a seemingly rudimentary foundation can be expanded upon ad infintium.