Cut Worms

Cut Worms – Castle In The Clouds

by Woody on May 28, 2020

Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

Cut Worms, the moniker of Max Clarke, is back with his first new music since 2018’s excellent Hollow Ground. Here’s a little backstory on the track.

Clarke wrote “Castle in the Clouds” in April 2019 after tours supporting his 2017 EP Alien Sunset and 2018’s Hollow Ground. The songs came quick, then, too many to count. Eschewing demos for in-studio spontaneity, he finished “Castle in the Clouds” on a flight to Memphis, TN, and then recorded it the next day at Sam Phillips Studio with Matt Ross-Spang (John Prine, Jason Isbell, Margo Price). The resulting track is somewhere between a lonesome cowboy lullaby for the restless, and a doo-wop sci-fi elegy for the daydreaming teenagers of Mars. Its video, homemade by Clarke, pulls together luminous animations and mid-20th century stock footage.

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Photo Credit – Joyce Lee

Cut Worms, the moniker of Max Clarke, is oft compared to The Everly Brothers. And while I’m familiar with a couple of their songs, I’m not well enough versed to speak intelligently about that. However, what Clarke’s lo-fi 60’s sound with hints of twang reminds me of is when Lennon would dabble in Americana.

Clarke does it all on the album; guitars, lap steel, bass, keys and is harmonizing with himself on every track. The layering of all these elements is done in such a brilliant manner; it belies what at first came across as pretty basic tunes. It’s like the melody hooked me in and once I started checking under the hood; I was like damn, there’s some cool shit happening in there.

Don’t Want To Say Goodbye and Til Tomorrow Goes Away are love songs that sees the protagonist pining for his love. Just great stuff. Hang Your Picture Up To Dry is the most twang of all the tracks; it is tear in your beer stuff. Would fit in nice with the Joshua Hedley debut. Actually, those two would be a nice twin bill.

Hollow Ground is a real nice debut by an artist with a very mature and fine-tuned ear. It has been an absolute pleasure peeling away at the layers of these tracks.

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Photo Credit – Joyce Lee

Cut Worms has announced his debut LP via the fine folks at Jagjaguwar before heading down to Austin for SXSW. He’ll have a few sets. The lead track below, Don’t Want To Say Goodbye, conjures up The Beatles in mind. It is a really well-done pop song when pop songs weren’t shit.

Midwestern-bred, NY-based Max Clarke, aka Cut Worms, was born with a knack for conjuring fine images and warm sounds with a curious underbelly. His songs crackle with the heat of a love-struck nostalgia: golden threads of storytelling woven together with a palpable Everly Brothers’ influence and 50s/60s naiveté. Sometimes, on Hollow Ground, Clarke presents impossibly lustful characters, sometimes brooding, while in other parts they fumble along, hopeful and painfully self-aware. His songwriting both evokes and explores the raw realm of youth, but channels it through the lens of someone more restrained, who’s been through it all before. Hollow Ground was written in NY and Chicago, and recorded in NY, and also LA w/ Jonathan Rado. Clarke plays most of the instruments throughout, including guitars, bass, lap steel & keys.

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Cut Worms

Cut Worms, aka Max Clarke, has just signed to Jagjaguwar. To celebrate they are releasing an EP of some demos before his full-length LP in 2018. The music comes off something from yesteryear. It is folk in nature but has some hints of glam to it. I’m digging the EP something fierce. Get excited for this dude. Here’s some more info on the EP.

“Alien Sunset” is a collection of home-recorded “demos” from Clarke’s time living in Chicago (Side A) and New York City (Side B), written in spurts, like little designated creative coffee breaks. After going to school for illustration, steering toward a career in graphic design, and taking some handy-man type jobs, he realized that songwriting, a pastime since he was twelve years old, was the only type of work that didn’t feel like just work. Following the example of a prolific roommate who had endeavored to write a song a day for a year, Clarke decided to dedicate his daily hour of free-time after work to mindful musical regimen. He challenged himself to record two songs a month and release them online – for better or for worse, praise or criticism. Expecting little more than a few constructive comments regarding his 8-track fidelity, he was surprised by the positive reactions to his antique sound, classic voice, and Everly Brothers style close harmonies. Soon after, Jagjaguwar discovered him:

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Cut Worms is here

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