Arguably another top band to emerge from the debris and to shine out like a beacon of hope in 2020 and beyond is The Clockworks.
The Clockworks moved from their hometown of Galway to London in January 2019. They had lived together for 2 years and having sold out local venue Roisín Dubh decided it was time to take the plunge. Once there they sent Alan McGee a message on Instagram saying “McGee: We’re the punk rock version of The Streets”. The aim was to grab his attention. It worked. Fortunately McGee likes ballsy people and so after realising that they were in North London rather than Galway, he dropped in on one of their rehearsals and promptly signed them to his record label “Creation23”, referring to them in the NME as “cocky little fuckers!”. With live performances including festivals across Europe, and as one of the supports for Kings of Leon in front of a huge crowd at Sefton Park in Liverpool, momentum was building. The debut single “Bills and Pills” was released in October 2019 but it was the four singles in 2020 that demonstrated The Clockworks are a force to be reckoned with.
Song-writer and lead singer James McGregor is inspired by the world around him. This is observational, kitchen-sink commentary which he lays down and then with the rest of the band – Seán Connelly on Guitar, Damian Greaney on Drums and Tom Freeman (from Limerick) on bass – they work collaboratively to produce the final track. This process obviously works because the results are explosive. There is an exhilaration in their music with the vibrancy of punk, and relatable humorous lyrics. Second single “Stranded in Stansted” opens with the lines “If we’re not there by 8 we are stuck, f*ck”. To write a song about the stresses of travelling through Stansted Airport is just so simple and yet the anecdotes and details make you both laugh with recognition, and cry with the memory of the stress!
As 2020 progressed and it became obvious that things were not going back to normal anytime soon, The Clockworks released “The Future is Not What is Was”. Written two years earlier, it transpired to be a song for our time. The lyrics are almost spat out with such distain for the antics of our leaders and those in authority. The optimistic visions of the future presented by generations past have transpired to be nothing more than the bleak reality of the present. With a backdrop of the Global Pandemic, this song seemed to reflect our helplessness. It’s delivered at top speed with a passion and fervour which takes your breath away.
This was followed in August by “Can I Speak To a Manager?”. Here James describes the frustrations of the everyday, the exasperating experience of telephone customer service, attempting to get a broken laptop fixed, financial pressures Another tight fireball combination of relatable humorous lyrics and punching gut-wrenching music.
And so to the surprise release in November. With no fanfare “Enough is Never Enough” arrived. The thrashing guitar at the beginning of this song just stops me dead. “It was a Tuesday, and it was bleak”.
With lyrics including a repetition of “These fingers were made for pointing” building to the chorus of “Enough Is Never Enough” you are drawn into our modern world full of consumerism and competition. And then there is that relentless, driving guitar which perfectly fits these lyrics…and a sharp, immediate end.
The Clockworks have already garnered attention and are poised for a very exciting 2021. They have proved they can still be creative within the current limitations. Alan McGee began his Creation23 label to release singles. In February 2021 Creation23 will be replaced by new visionary label with the intention to release both singles AND albums. There’s no doubt that The Clockworks are going to be near the top of the album priority list.
Words by JULIA MASON