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Clockwise - Healthy Manipulation Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 November 2002

Healthy Manipulation
format: CD
label: RCA
release year: 2002
performance: 8
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

ImageClockwise is from cushy Las Vegas, but plenty of Seattle’s grunge elements must have somehow reached this hard-rocking band, even over all the noise of that Nevada region’s omnipresent casinos. Vocalist Austin Leduc, who is tagged with a name that sounds more like a hockey player than a rocker, sings with Eddie Vedder-like passion and Chris Cornell-esque desperation on many of these 12 noisy tracks.
Historically, metal has been one of the whitest and most soulless musical forms in all of pop music history. But grunge reintroduced sincere vulnerability to a genre that was too many times only about pseudo-devil worship and partying. Clockwise plays workmanlike hard rock that is rarely fancy, but always concise and tight. Healthy Manipulation is a showcase for Leduc’s heart-on-his-sleeve sentiments. He goes from the unforgiving nature of a track like “No Sympathy,” to the I’m-truly-sorry approach of “Aware.”

The album was produced by Dan Brodbeck, and given extra after-the-fact polish by Andy Wallace. Compositions are made up of driving bass lines, insistent drumming and rumbling guitar parts. In its best moments,
Clockwise mixes and matches influences. This is best exemplified by the track “Open,” which – just when it’s starting to get a little too Pearl Jam-y for its own good -- breaks into a jangly guitar-assisted chorus. This is also one of the album’s brighter moments, as Leduc actually sounds happy on it. Just like so many of his Northwestern heroes, Leduc many times (too many times?) comes off like a singing manic depressive.

Leduc sure has a potty mouth on him, as he routinely sprinkles F-bombs throughout this release. And tracks like “Lay Her Down” and “No Sympathy” imply a less than flattering view of the fairer sex. Then again, maybe he’s just coming off a bad relationship, one that has discolored his perspective. He’s more effective as a communicator when waxing autobiographical, as with “Hook And Line,” than he is in trying to analyze matters of the heart.

It may be a little premature to start talking about retro grunge already, but Clockwise clearly has its hands spinning backwards in that general direction. We have to call ‘em as we see ‘em, and Clockwise is what it is: a healthy remanipulator of derivative yet inspired modern-day grunge.

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