Melbourne’s explosive punk-trio CLAMM have released their brilliant debut album, Beseech Me, out now on Meat Machine (Crack Cloud, N0V3L). The band’s previous singles, ‘Keystone Pols‘, ‘Liar‘ and ‘Beseech Me‘ have drawn support from BBC 6Music, in particular Steve Lamacq, which is a barometer of greatness in itself. CLAMM are like a clarion call for a generation facing an age of uncertainty, using a powerful brand of bracing punk to deliver this soundtrack for the evicted souls of modern conventions.
On the face of it, Beseech Me is the next spiky post-punk record shooting for the big time from a booming Bristol scene that has made stars out of IDLES and cult heroes of Heavy Lungs and Lice, to name but a few.
There is something very Joe Talbot about Jack Summers’ vocals on opening track ‘Liar’ and the title track’s vehemence shares a common musical thread with Danny Nedelko’s band, but there’s something not quite right. That’s because there’s a small problem – CLAMM hail from about as far from the jewel of the South West as it’s possible to get. Melbourne, Australia, to be precise.
Yet it’s utterly exhilarating that such familiar sounds are coming from so far away – ‘Keystone Pols’ is a straight riot starter no matter what time zone you’re in, and whether there’s snow or sun on Christmas Day, ‘Repress’ is real sore-throat post-punk a la mode. The big Bristol names mentioned above, not to mention non-UK acts like Metz, should be swelling with pride.
That said, CLAMM are certainly a band in touch with their deeper roots, made clear by the few tantalising bars of Black Flag thrash that close ‘Repress’ and hammered home by a liberal application of the lawless disregard for good taste that has been fermenting in dusty garages filled with amps and guitars since the late 70s. “I’ll never pass your test”, screams Summers on ‘Confused’; “I don’t wanna fight, ‘cos I’m a fucking coward” he bellows on ‘Sucker Punch’ – you’ve heard it all before and unashamedly want more. CLAMM deliver it dextrously and devastatingly, marrying the gritty sounds of UK underbelly guitar music with a punkish, theatrical arrogance that could only come from down under. With the world the way it is, with social and national borders starker than ever, it is reassuring that CLAMM exist.
Melbourne is a city that bleeds music. Iconic bands such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring (who CLAMM opened for in 2019) and Total Control (who’s Mikey Young mixed and mastered Beseech Me) have built on the city’s history of open-hearted, fist-in-throat, fiercely independent music. Scenes centering around labels like Flightless (King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, The Babe Rainbow), Antifade (Bananagun) and Cool Death (Romero) have held the torch for countless groups as good as any in the world.
However, CLAMM arrived completely apart from any established scene or sound. They began playing shows in 2019, sharing bills with virtually anyone who would have them. Since early childhood, Jack Summers (vocals/guitar) and Miles Harding (drums) had been friends and musical collaborators. Under various banners, they performed for years with friends and siblings across Melbourne’s underground landscape. It wasn’t until they found Maisie Everett (vocals/bass) that the CLAMM picture was complete. Their quick ascension drew support from KEXP, Triple J, Triple J Unearthed, Double J, Triple R, and shared bills with the aforementioned Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Amyl and the Sniffers in 2019.
Beseech Me, recorded with Nao Anzai (Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Floodlights, NO ZU), offers up ten tracks that explore the margins of fury and tenderness. ‘Keystone Pols’ churns like the bowels of a factory, with an alarming guitar riff that sirens repeatedly. On the demonic 6/8 chug ‘Repress’, Jack begins a snarled plea: “I don’t want your fucking money! / I don’t want your fucking time! / I don’t want your holiday payout / I just want to be outside.” About ‘Liar’, Jack says, “it’s about dealing with a voice in your head that isn’t always telling the truth.”
Pointing sharpened question marks at power and oppression, CLAMM’s explicit lyrics and indignation is aimed at those who press dents into a struggling world. Despite their frustration, CLAMM also maintain a shining optimism in their ethos. Their tumultuous rhythms and fuzzed mechanical guitar are a fierce counterpoint to messages of anti-violence and self-betterment.
Order Digital Album + Vinyl in Bandcamp store: https://clammxo.