Clock Hands Strangle are an impressive indie rock band from Melbourne, Florida. Redshift/Blueshift is the band’s debut full-length. Right from the beginning, I am reminded of another eclectic Florida band that I recently reviewed, Band Marino. Both bands have an incredible talent considering their youth. However, where Band Marino’s music runs a wide spectrum, Clock Hands Strangle have a more focused and uniform approach.
Clock Hands Strangle has an endearing wayward spirit that reveals itself slowly with each listen. The band’s influences sit rather firmly out in front. Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, Death Cab For Cutie and Iron & Wine are all touchstones that come to mind when listening to Redshift/Blueshift. The album is an interesting tale of two sides. The first (and stronger) half begins with opening track, “Redshift.” This half is more acoustically-based and lyrically tells tales of loss. The second half which ends with the closing track, “Blueshift,” consists of Clock Hands Strangle’s more rock-driven material and lyrically turns towards acceptance.
The vocal and lyrical style of vocalist/guitarist Todd Portnowitz bare a striking resemblance to Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. Instrumentally speaking, Redshift/Blueshift is rich and abundant. Horns, violin, piano, and glockenspiel all make appearances here and add a dynamic quality to the band’s warm songwriting. The music creates a solid backdrop for the band’s poetic lyrical imagery. Once again, the influence of Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse is hard to ignore. Clock Hands Strangle’s lyrics seem to have that same morbid, but beautifully descriptive nature of Brock’s best material. Elements of birth, life and death litter the lyrical highway that Clock Hands Strangle travel. The album comes to end with “Blueshift,” an eight minute foot-stomper that encompasses all of Clock Hands Strangle’s many strengths. The songs between “Redshift” and “Blueshift” show a band with an incredible vision and the ability to transport the listener. Redshift/Blueshift is an album in the truest sense.
Clock Hands Strangle have scored quite a triumph here. While Redshift/Blueshift may not be for those seeking instant gratification, it is for those who appreciate albums that will stand the test of time. The album gives you something more with each subsequent listen. Clock Hands Strangle have quietly delivered a stunner of a debut with Redshift/Blueshift.