I first encountered Clipd Beaks when they rolled into town to perform a South by Southwest-like show with fellow noise rockers Mika Miko and No Age. Established at a club that no longer exists, it was a two-story hole-in-the-wall that creatively set up each act to start and end consistently. Mixed in with three other bands that were all travelling by, it still ranks in my mind at least, as one of the most successful ‘indie’ shows put together in my town.
See, this do-it-yourself demeanor fully suited all of the performing bands’ methods of rehearsing and recording. You had a couple of bands that were responsible for ushering a new wave of sound in California, there was a band from Arizona that featured an unforgettable drummer and you also had Clipd Beaks. The latter and I say this with the utmost praise towards No Age, was the highlight of the night for me. Sprawling and absolutely engaging, they wailed on trumpets, screamed through their microphones and tore tear guitars up, they were magnetically enforcing.
Naturally, when a band is able to trigger a feeling of nostalgia like this then you know there was something utterly memorable about them. Hoarse Lords was a critically loved album that shined what kind of force Clipd Beaks were dealing with but with a head full of steam, To Realize is the – and fittingly so – realization of the impressive sounds Clipd Beaks can embrace. A noise album can be just as easily divisive if it’s done with too many abrasive characteristics, like a redundant flaw or even being too much all the time. Fortunately, there isn’t much wrong with To Realize and it completely places itself as an early contender for avant-garde/noise album of the year.
The album’s haze of destruction reveals a darkly layered cascade of instruments. Like something early Liars would have created, the songs stand out not because of their sheer intensity but because of their ability at being able to suck you in without needing to switch it up too much. It recalled a moment in their live show where the entire band focused on a repetitive looping of chords and dissonant passing tones while one of the band members was reaching for his trumpet – the entire crowd looked on in eager anticipation. There was this trance, this head-nodding, mesmerizing glow appearing in front of us and while we were lost in the music, we still wanted to know what the trumpet was going to do. Building off the edges with sound after sound of amazing retort, the trumpet came on at the very end to deliver one loud note, over and over and with that, I knew there was something special.
To Realize is like a lot of this spacey-ness: it’s inducing to the kind of state of retrospect and reflection. “Jamn” is, in all speculation, playfully titled in such a way because it’s a band jamming out in their own style. Forget about growing into an explosive head-rocking propulsion, instead lets join at the hands to twist and turn the melody and spin it off the top of the snares’ head. And even with that kind of feeling, there is very little explanation as to where the music is going and where it plans on ending; it’s not your job to know that.
It’s always great to see a band showcase all of their strengths but when you can take everyone by surprise it’s going to require just that much more skill. It’s an under-publicized band and the genre is still as much of a niche as it is an umbrella of reference but for Clipd Beaks, they’re more concerned with twisting your head in every direction. It’s time to jump on for the ride.