Clist – In Care of Lena

In Care of Lena

From their subtly dirty name to the unsettling illustration of a group of people clubbing seals on their web-page (or hell, just the fact that they are from Nashville), Clist seems intent on making listeners slightly uncomfortable. Overdriven 4-track recordings, distorted signals, and brutal feedback are all part of Robbin’s arsenal. The vocals range from cold Factory Records-sounding industrial vox to a jittery straight-forward tenor, which when combined with less overdriven sounds brings to mind the Leaving Trains.

“In Care of Lena” seems like it would be done with a touch of sarcasm, but the delivery is so serious that it is difficult to see it as a joke about mental illness. But then maybe it isn’t supposed to be: to quote Philip K Dick, “Mental Illness isn’t funny.” A song toying with the idea that every family has a crazy relative, the lyrics are difficult to make out above the din of buzzing bass, guitar, and cymbal sound that meld together to create a homogenous heavy sound – like a bad bootleg of a Melvins show where the tape recorder was left next to one of the onstage speakers for the duration of the recording. Structurally, the song is linear rather than cyclical and has a minimal amount of variation on the primary driving riff, either melodically or rhythmically. The lyrics tell a story, sort of building up to the fear that a crazy relative can induce in their family, and then the vocals are replaced by a noise-guitar solo with additional squeals coming from what sounds like microphone feedback.

Even though their songs range from the simplistic to the insipid (e.g. their song about Katie Holmes is a desperate attempt at being clever), Clist has a commanding presence on record and come across almost as overbearing. That is commonly only achieved by cock-rock and a few Touch & Go bands. Perhaps because they are so blunt, Clist’s songs must be delivered with greater force to make an impact.