Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Why Make Clocks: Making Rock Music The Right Way

It seems in this day and age, people are getting away from just making rock music. That’s not terrible, in and of itself, but it just seems that the real smart and daring people seem to be gravitating away from just a classic rock and roll sound. And the ones that do want to make a rock record seem to want to do it in about the laziest way possible.  Seriously, turn on any active rock radio station and listen closely. There seems to be a multitude of bands that make rock music and just completely miss out on the actual effort. They get the point, it seems, but not quite the execution. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with rock and roll, and there are still talented people who make rock music that matters.

Why Make Clocks

Now, I will try not to bore you on what I think it takes to be a quality rock band. I have theories and theses that can be transformed into full on essays, I’m sure, but I think it comes down to two characteristics: heart and intelligence.  Anyone with proper training and education can make a guitar riff, but what it takes to go from just someone playing music to someone who is a worthwhile artist comes down to those two qualities.

Why I like Why Make Clocks so much is that they have an overabundance of both. The music is glossy and well produced garage rock. The guitar riffs hit harder than just your standard pop rock outfit and are multi layered. This is especially interesting since on their current album, 2009‘s These Thing Are Ours, most of the guitar work is done by one man, singer and key songwriter Dan Hutchison (on live shows, they have added the multi-talented Chuck Hoffman on bass, and he will also be featured on their upcoming album, Tight Dissolve).

But this isn’t just about being supremely talented musicians (which Hutchison, Hoffman and percussionist Will Tarbox all absolutely are), it is as much about knowing when to do what they do. They change the tempo at all the right times. The guitars go from a slight distortion to a bit of a whine to a crisp riff at precisely the right moments. Sometimes it sounds like a grunge track, or even a Pearl Jam B-Side, and at times there are hints of Hutchison’s other project, the prog rock Fetal Pig.  Hutchison’s vocals go from rock crooner, to slightly soulful to an almost Neil Young-esque whine when needed. They aren’t just about playing notes, they are about playing notes at the right moments for exactly the right impact.

What I also like about them is that lyrically, they are superb. It is true to life words put in true to life situations. But they aren’t third grade poetry readings, either.  While sometimes simple, almost childish lyrics can be okay, the failure is that even when simple lyrics are written, they seem forced. Almost as if the songwriter was working on a deadline and just crapped out whatever claptrap they could. Why Make Clock’s lyrics are great because they are sang and presented with such conviction and intent. Heart.

Why Make Clocks proves that you can write a rock song suitable for any situation, and still make it a gifted presentation. Be on the lookout for their upcoming album (they are also featured on an upcoming compilation of Iowa artists called Sonic Harvest, which I hope to review in a couple of weeks) and catch them live if you get the opportunity. In the meantime, check out their catalog at their website.

Try Not To Miss Shows – 3/8 – 3/14

Seriously. Four of the best acts in the country will be in Central Iowa this week at arguably my two favorite venues in the world. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Doomtree – M-Shop 3/8 8pm

Minneapolis based hip hop collective comes to Iowa, and you should really be there. Featuring multi-dimensional multi-talented producers, MC’s and musicians, Doomtree is arguably one of the most critically acclaimed, and well, fun shows you’ll see.

Unicycle Loves You w/ The New Bodies, The Wheelers, Love Songs For Lonely Monsters and Wolves in the Attic – Vaudeville Mews 3/9 8pm (21+)

This is a lot of talented acts on one bill. Four of Iowa’s best rock acts all on one stage with a headliner the likes of Chicago’s Unicycle Loves You is just incredible.

Saint Motel w/ Empires – M-Shop 3/10 9pm

LA based pop rock band Saint Motel are one of the most highly sought after up and coming bands in the US. Their catchy pop rock sound promises to be a uniquely fun time.

The Heligoats w/ Callen’s Mudmen and Tires – Vaudeville Mews 3/13 8pm

Occasionally acerbic, often funny, always intelligent and always unique, The Heligoats are one of my personal favorites.  Go listen to “Fish Sticks” right now.

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