Release Date: May 4, 2018
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Loving the music of the Everly Brothers is something that scores of music fans have done over the years; most of those fans were content to spin the duo's records and enjoy their haunting vocal harmonies and achingly romantic songs. Cut Worms' Max Clarke took his love of the Everlys one step further, and on his debut album, Hollow Ground, re-creates their vintage sound on a set of ten songs that have all the heart and soul of the brothers' best work. With producers Jonathan Rado and Jason Finkel helping out, Clarke plays most of the instruments, vocally plays the role of both Phil and Don, and masterfully straddles the line between soda shop-sweet pop and richly twangy country as Hollow Ground's mix of jangling uptempo tracks, quiet ballads loaded with lap and pedal steel, and swaying midtempo doo wop roll by like the best songs on a greatest-hits album.
With their debut EP, Alien Sunset, Max Clarke's Cut Worms distilled nostalgic rock hidden behind a fuzzy layer of tape hiss and reverb. Less than a year later, Clarke releases Hollow Ground, his first proper album, which sees his songwriting take a giant leap and come into focus. Clearly inspired by the late '60s, on this LP, Cut Worms synthesize a moment in music history when the boundaries between country and psych rock were blurred for a brief, euphoric period.
Arguing Revolver vs. Sgt. Pepper's is old hat; the real heritage heads are those that can fill you in on why A Hard Day's Night is better than Help! Max Clarke, he who is Cut Worms, goes one further, seeming at first to have little use for popular music written after 1962. Clarke's vocals, often double-tracked on Hollow Ground, vibrate in a kind of wiry Midwestern Scouse, and a number of his song titles could easily be mistaken for early Fab Four tunes: "Don't Want To Say Goodbye", "Till Tomorrow Goes Away", and one word away with "It Won't Be Too Long".
Max Clarke is one of those musicians who worship relics of bygone eras. His eagerness to revisit the art of periods he was born too late to experience permeates the 8-track recordings he makes as Cut Worms, an alias lifted from William Blake's 18th-century poem "Proverbs of Hell." But he's more than just a throwback. His debut album, Hollow Ground, is a collection of '60s-style pop ballads that balance vintage aesthetics with expressive songwriting.