CLOVIS MANN – Clovis Mann
Clovis Mann combines jam-band vibes with the blues and a strong dose of Jimi Hendrix to create an update on the original hippifed sound. This, their first full-length CD, combines six new songs with the six that appeared on their similarly eponymous EP from last year (reviewed in our April ’06 issue). The band’s philosophy is obviously to capture full performances in the studio with minimal processing, editing and overdubs. They are a power trio in the most genuine sense, staying true to the spirit of the original concept and recreating the wide-open-spaces jamming of the Hendrix Experience, right down to the vocal inflections. So when Dan Walkner steps out to take a guitar solo, bassist Stosh Jonjak steps it up, often making for two simultaneous solos while holding down the groove. Along with drummer Ethan Noordyk, they do this brilliantly, making for wild instrumentals and spirited delivery. Check out “Dancin’ with the Devil” and “Second Chance” to hear just how tightly these players can weave rhythms.
The sound of the album is decidedly low-fi and honest; it sounds like it could have been done in a rehearsal space. In reality it was recorded at Q Studios in Chicago and they certainly have succeeded in capturing the sound of the room and the band’s live feel. A distinct human quality is present as well with the occasional slightly-out-of-tune guitar and muffed note but this fact underscores the band’s intention to capture the essence of the music rather than creating a more perfect, but ultimately more sterile, recording.
Clovis Mann really explores the blues on “Gravedigger,” a dark and heavy jam that also appeared on the EP. The exploratory nature of the music makes everything sound fresh again. “War Child” is another standout track, one you’d swear was recorded by Hendrix himself. In fact, several of the titles are reminiscent of Hendrix’s albums and tunes: “War Child” (War Heroes/“Voodoo Child”), “Stone Moses” (“Stone Free”), “Small Town Vice” (Crosstown Traffic”), “Ethereal Lady” (Electric Ladyland), etc. “War Child” perhaps sums up the band’s ethos while also demonstrating Walkner’s uncanny ability to sing while soloing.
The heaviness of the lyrics results in a strong statement, with war, death, wrongdoing and hardship being central themes. But underneath these themes flows a current of hope and the strength to persevere, a sentiment that often bears repeating.