Between Now And Then

The Clarks

High Wire Music, 2005

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


"American. Guitar. Rock."

As I've recently discussed, sometimes the promo sheets are right. In the case the quotee -- Clarks bassist Greg Joseph -- nailed the essence of his band's sound and ethos. This is no-frills, meat-and-potatoes, big-hooks-and-sincere-lyrics rock and roll, the kind of stuff that would make both a heartland rocker like John Mellencamp and an East Coast dreamer like Bruce Springsteen smile and nod.

Geographically, the Clarks split the difference -- their stomping ground is Pittsburgh, where they have been regional stars for the better part of two decades, filling large halls and small arenas and selling 250,000 copies of their previous discs. This is in fact a greatest hits album of sorts for the quartet (Joseph on bass, Scott Blasey on guitar and vocals, Robert James on guitar and vocals, and David Minarik Jr. on drums), even if they've never had a proper hit single outside their hometown.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Between Now And Then is a treasure trove of songs that coulda-woulda-shoulda been hits. From the propulsive power-pop of "Let It Go" (best line: "I've done some foolish things / But who can blame me?") to the sincere anguish of "Hey You" ("The pain will go away / In another year or two / In a hundred years or two / In a thousand years or two"), these guys prove again and again that they are rock and roll craftsmen who love nothing better than matching a strong hook to a smart lyric.

Though many of these songs have an earnestness that reminds me of Jimmy Eat World, like Jimmy, the Clarks don't lack edge. "On Saturday" is a surprisingly upbeat and deliciously snide breakup song, and "Caroline" pours on the spite ("You can cauterize my feelings / With your flaming tongue, leave me reeling") leading up to the big kiss-off. On the other side of things, the mostly acoustic "Penny On The Floor" (which received some radio play in its day) shows a softer side of this group that's equally appealing.

Lest there be any doubt what this band is all about, though, they include a pair of live cuts here that simply light up your speakers. "The Apartment Song" and audience favorite "Cigarette" both rock hard and invite head-bobbing sing-alongs (not to mention jealousy of the hometown fans who get treated to this stuff on a regular basis).

Between Now And Then includes 18 songs that span the Clarks' 17-year career, including three new cuts -- notably the kickoff, very hooky rocker "Bona Fide." It makes a great introduction to a band that will have you asking yourself "Why haven't I ever heard of these guys before?" You have now.

[For more information, visit The Clarks at]

Rating: B+

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