Introducing Clockwork Noise, wizards of ill

In addition to his aptitude for taking group selfies, Clockwork Noise vocalist Robert Maguire is the grandmaster of "hi okay bye". (On their site, the band has mentions in Missouri, Calgary, Montreal, and California; impressive for a group with just north of 500 likes on Facebook.) Not so fast, boy. Toronto wants a word with you.

With an excellent play on words, the Irish five-piece released their debut, Whethermachines, a surging, nine-track storm of angst and independence this past May. The band zeroes in on its juxtapositions: grungy vocals, frantic drum fills, and punk guitars on Whethermachines redeemed by intricate string arrangements and percussion. It's most obvious in the album's finale, "The Tourists", where a voice-isolating accompaniment is suddenly interrupted by a blasting riff. Here's a video for the second single, shot entirely with a GoPro camera.

"Wizard of Ill", the black sheep middle child of the album begins the second half of Whethermachines with a classic church-organ synth progression and enters into a sweet melody nobody saw coming after the first four songs on the album. The sixth track is another showstopper, with power riffs and moody vocals; "inaction is our addiction; responsibility lies somewhere else," Maguire sings matter-of-factly on "Windows". The final three tracks create a calm, folk-oriented bubble in the midst of a rock album, a noticeable departure from spastic earlier tracks like "Advocate", which possesses its own charm.

All in all, Whethermachines is a pretty darn cool and versatile debut. It's raw in that "our producer's no Steve Lilywhite" way, but there are moments throughout the album that blend so naturally, like on "A Wake Up Serenade", they'd probably sound incredible with that sort of production. (Ivan Jackman, you've done wonderfully yourself, but um, Lillywhite does Phillips commercials.) Download Whethermachines off their bandcamp below, free of charge.

The band thinks they're like "Nine Inch Nails playing Buddy Holly songs, with a string section". Egoeccentric, much? They're pretty "ill", I guess. (So. Many. Puns.) Is there such thing as "baroque punk"? Like, what if we hybridized Fleet Foxes and Middle Class Rut? Eureka, it's Clockwork Noise!