His Clancyness is the alias of Bologna-based Canadian, Jonathan Clancy. Having toured the world in a couple of bands, Jonathan struck out on his own back in 2009 and started to gain some early recognition across internet blogs when he began leaking out a series of bedroom-recorded psych-pop gems. A collection of these smudged recordings was compiled together in 2010 and released under the suitably murky title 'Always Mist'. Where those early tracks (conceived as a spurt of individual tracks rather than as parts within the cohesive span of an album) often had a certain airy dreaminess, a kind of blurring of focus and amorphous stretching out, His Clancyness’ first proper album, ‘Vicious’ - scheduled for release in October 2013 - arrives fully formed, standing out as an impressively accomplished and completely self-assured album - a huge step forward.
Recorded with producer Chris Koltay (Liars, Atlas Sound, Lotus Plaza, Akron Family, Dirtbombs) at High Bias Recordings in Detroit, ‘Vicious’ is warm and precise, filled with an unfaltering procession of addictive, hook-filled tracks. Described by its author as “a sassy, dreamy glam rocknroll album”, the softer-edges of His Clancyness’ earlier recordings are here replaced by a dynamic of real drive and bite, where every part feels perfectly balanced and intended. The songs still stretch out expansively but everything about the record (from the writing to the playing and production) is bolder, more forceful, cohesive and concise. The guitars are luminous and the whole is powerfully underpinned with a taut, punchy rhythmic spine that fits comfortably within a very modern American take on krautrock’s motorik propulsiveness.
Recorded as a trio (including Paul Pieretto and Jacopo Borazzo on bass and drums), the album marks the first time its architect had recorded with a band. “I had played everything on the demos and I think the difference from the previous things published is that I managed to put more attention on the instrumental parts and details, everything before was very compressed and to the point, there is more space here, more roads.”
This space provides a platform for Clancy’s impressionistic yet emotionally engaging lyrics, which augment the surreal dream-like quality of the album. Writing songs often functions as a form of escape for Clancy, something which is alluded to in the album’s title, as he explains: “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, Jonathan.”
An avowed rock and pop culture obsessive, Clancy cites a long and varied list of artists as influences - Swell Maps, Can, Bowie, Modern Lovers, Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker, The Gun Club, Women, Stevie Nicks, Gastr Del Sol, Zombies and "just about every psychedelic pop nugget ever produced." Listen in and you might also pick out traces of The Beach Boys, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Panda Bear and - especially on the newer material - Deerhunter, Kurt Vile, and Lower Dens. The influence of Cinema can be felt in the eerie synth lines that weave in and out of the record, at times recalling soundtracks to Italian horror movie director Dario Argento’s earlier work. Recently His Clancyness unveiled their signing to FatCat with a wry take on the lyrics video, inspired by the ‘Hitchcock Presents…’ intros.
Although the entirety of the music he has recorded to date has been written by Clancy, on the road His Clancyness becomes a full band with friends Giulia Mazza (synths / keyboards / noise boxes / vocals / percussion), Emanuela Drei (bass, sampler, vocals) and Jacopo Borazzo (drums / percussion). Having played an extensive schedule at SXSW and embarked on high profile tours with Deerhunter and Widowspeak this year already, they are a well-oiled and invigorating live act.
David Howell : email@example.com