There is a sense of restless creativity and rhythmic movement that spreads itself out across the tracks of murky psych-pop outfit His Clancyness’ latest record, Vicious. This seems particularly appropriate as Ottawa-born founder John Clancy spent most of childhood commuting between Italy and Canada, and this idea of spatial displacement is littered throughout the record. That’s not to say that Vicious isn’t a cohesive set of songs; it certainly is – the majority of which inhabit a foggy, bedroom psych-pop pastiche environment. A self-described rock and pop culture obsessive, Clancy draws from a laundry list of influences which include Can, David Bowie, The Gun Club, and Stevie Nicks (among dozens of others) — and it’s at this intersection of rough-hewn rock and melodic pop that His Clancyness finds its muse.
Produced by Chris Koltay (Liars, Atlas Sound, Akron Family), Vicious is His Clancyness’ first album for Fat Cat Records, though he has had previous releases under various smaller labels. When describing the inspiration and execution behind Vicious, Clancy says, “Vicious is how I overcome distance. I want to be vicious. I can’t be vicious. I can be vicious on an album made up of songs. Songs are marked by violence, general wrongdoing and finally peace. You can beat loss, escape territories and find new lands in a heartbeat. Those are songs I like to write. In a new city you can wear a mask, develop a new persona, change path. I’ve lived in twelve different cities. This is sort of what this album deals with for me. It’s the harshest things I’ve ever written, I wanted to go to places that are as far as possible from me.”
Recently, we asked Clancy to talk a bit about some of his favorite records, as well as those that had a large impact of the recording ofVicious. Some of his choices are more obvious (Lindsey Buckingham) than others (U.S. Maple), but all of them have a strong melodic backbone and a sense of rhythmic momentum that feels intrinsically drawn from each artist or band’s own experiences. These are records that only these particular musicians could have made and the insular atmospheres that they perpetuate seem like the perfect fit for Clancy’s own monologuing pop tendencies. Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.
Lindsey Buckingham – Under The Skin
This is a record we listened to quite a lot when recording Vicious. It’s a weird one I still can’t quite grasp. It really feels like Buckingham trying to stay pop while experimenting in this cheesy way that just works. It seems like he went out of his way to use the long reverbs and sort of funny delays, but somehow it flows. He’s not shy at all to sing out of tune, whisper, breathe and give an amazing rendition of a Stones jam.
U.S. Maple – Long Hair In Three Stages
I was 15, I heard this and thought it was terrible, how could you play guitars that way, howl, spit, moan and have a rhythm section that collapsed on every verse. Just awful. Then I saw them live, everything locked, it’s like seeing primitive blues played by Black Flag with a one man verbal assault a la Nick Cave. For a few years Skin Graft the label that put this out was really a place where weirdos, freaks could feel at home.
The Babies – Our House On The Hill
We’ve done a split 7″ in the early days, so I’ve always been fond of them. But I always argue with people that this is a modern rocknroll classic. No flaws, 12 killer songs you can dance, drive and cry too. It’s easy and sinks under your skin. I wish they would get so much more praise. It’s not as easy as you might think to have tunes like this. Modern Lovers classic style nuggets.
U.S. Girls – GEM
Nothing can describe this record more than the word GEM. It’s probably my fav record on my label FatCat. I just think everything from the artwork to the lyrics to the tunes is perfection taken to another level. It’s mystery, dancing, good times, sadness, sweat, yet eerie and descriptive.
Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil
Another current lone wolf. Such a consistent writer, changing, evolving LP to LP, tape to tape, 7″ to 7″ and hard to pin down. This album is really rewarding after many listens, it’s sometimes scary and dark and the only LP I happened to listen this year completely in the dark of my living room and felt at unease. Second side is just plain beautiful.
The Fat Cat Records debut from His Clancyness, Vicious, is out now.