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Mike Clerk’s Debut LP

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Mike Clerk THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EARS. Mike Clerk/Wardlaw Music

‘The Air In Here’ Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjyVvZNMhds

Speaking about the video, Clerk says:

It kind-of looks like a lockdown video but that’s just a coincidence if I’m honest, I didn’t want to cheapen it by going for the pandemic angle really but I suppose it’s a bit unavoidable right now!”

Review

Most solo singer-songwriters have a soft edge to their music with an inclination towards folk and pop. Clerk is different, as this record beautifully illustrates. Rock ‘n’ roll plays a heavy part in communicating Clerk’s highly introspective, intimate and difficult messages. ‘Good For Me’ opens the record in down-tempo mode but it’s not long before the rocky sound reveals itself along with an expressive, gravelly vocal and the first sample of those ‘difficult’ messages: “When did this shit just get so serious?/And why have I fallen down again?/I speak in tongues thoughts of delirium/And I can’t find my way.” The tone of the song matches the very serious confessional sentiments made compelling by a strong melody and some significant guitar riffs. I have also sensed a hit of the Stones coming through on the instrumental arrangement. A great start.

‘Thoughts Of Fools’ opens with confrontational bass line and throbbing rhythm but this time Clerk introduces a sliver of pop sensibility to the proceedings. There’s a powerful melody and the introduction of keyboards to spice up the messages. The choruses provide a focal point and cement my thought that this could be a great radio single. ‘Do Something New’ is economic in the lyrics department with the main theme being: “There must be something good inside of me/I’m stuck here on the roof while you’re all fighting in the streets.” It’s a bluesy, melodic rocker with some very fine guitar riffs and a solid bass rhythm.

‘The Air In Here’ is a devastating track masked somewhat by the lighter rock treatment with the effect that the lyrics are heard clearly: “I’m sat here waiting for death/But I ain’t worth then taking, I see the light ain’t fading/Hot nicotine stains my breath/That my lungs are laced in, but my tongue can’t taste it/And I can feel it as it threads through my chest/My head is aching, from all the shit I’ve been taking/I’m obsessed with feeling upset/My hands are shaking, see the mess I’m making.” Keyboards dominate the instrumental backdrop to add the required drama to another great song.

‘Come Down With Me’ retreats from rock to an acoustic folk sound to convey a feeling that the artist is coming out of his difficult period: “Don’t make a sound/I’m coming unbound/Right about now.” The relentless acoustic guitar work is magical with Clerk sounding Eddie Vedder-like, while the melody arrives inn truckloads. It’s simply superb. ‘You When You’ repeats the folk-pop vibe with, it were possible, an even stronger melody that cements the song’s memory to one’s brain. Gorgeous!

‘So Bizzarre’ signals the climate-change return to the rock vibe while ‘Keep Movin” adds notable guitar riffs in a song dominated by them, and wonderfully so. Then Clerk performs the interlude trick of toning down proceedings with ‘Words Of God’. It’s a moving song in blues/rock style with another super melody and guitar riffs with drums pounding out a more gentle rhythm. The lyrics match the quality of everything else here: “As ever the world will turn/We’ll forever have books to burn we don’t need/We Don’t need…And I won’t find my faith/In lies that hide disgrace.”

Mike Clerk has created something extraordinary here when comparing with so much of what we are forced to hear today. He has produced a record that screams out truth, emotion and artistic merit. However, it is also totally accessible to anyone who wants to hear. One of my records of the year and essential.

5/5

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Tracks

1. Good For Me 05:53
2. Thoughts Of Fools 04:24
3. Do Something New 04:22
4. The Air In Here 04:14
5. Pour It Down 02:49
6. Come Down With Me 04:46
7. You When You 04:21
8. So Bizzarre 03:57
9. Everybody Knows It (Bonus Track) 04:09
10. Keep Movin’ 03:33
11. Words Of Gods

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Background

Getting cabin fever in lockdown, or perhaps restlessly counting down the days to the release THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EARS on 26th March; the new video for ‘The Air In Here’ takes us into the mindset of a man on the edge. Trapped in an eternity of nothingness with only his own thoughts (and a cameo from Castaway’s Wilson) for company, the endless roll of apocalyptic news on the telly and extended isolation soon begin to take their toll.

Directed by Sean Defrancesco and starring Mike Clerk as himself, “The Air In Here” was filmed over the course of just one day and night early on in 2021.

With themes of mental health and addiction, rehabilitation and redemption, this video preceded the arrival of Clerk’s debut solo album: THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EARS. Looking to “mend the after effects of historical over indulgence“, Clerk delivers an alt rock record that delves deep into the various mind-sets of the human psyche.

Written and recorded almost-entirely by Clerk at his own home studio, additional drum sessions took place at the local YMCA in Kirkcaldy. With contributions from sound-engineer Alan Ramsey, the album was mastered by Pete Maher (U2, Jack White, The Rolling Stones, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher…).

Formerly the frontman of The Lost Generation, Clerk already has a good pedigree of experience in the music industry under his belt. While with the band he regularly played exclusive club nights for the NME in the UK and the US, Alan McGee’s Death Disco club nights, and had a close call with guitar duties for Primal Scream.

Prompted by a successful GoFundMe page, Mike Clerk returned to music after an extended absence in 2020 whereby he announced his new solo career. Scoring an exclusive publishing deal with Wardlaw Music (putting him on the same roster as Massive Attack, Pulp, The Zutons, Simple Minds, U2, and Stormzy), Clerk has since earned fans in Iron Maiden’s Tony Moore, The Undertones’ Mickey Bradley and Trainspotting’s Robert Carlyle, with the latter even adding Keep Movin’ to his “2020 shit year, great music” playlist.

In something of a whirlwind journey that has brought him back from the brink, Clerk has now released his debut solo album for 2021. Coupling a fierce DIY ethic to a huge sound, THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EARS confirms Clerk’s return to music with a comeback record hard to ignore.

Self-released on 26th March 2021, THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EARS is available as a limited edition 12″ Vinyl (available exclusively through Bandcamp and signed on request).

https://mikeclerkmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-space-between-my-ears

https://www.facebook.com/mikeclerkmusic/
https://twitter.com/mikeclerkmusic
https://www.instagram.com/mikeclerkmusic

ikeclerkmusic


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