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The Clarks

King Mouse Records

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Try this recipe for Any Alterna-Rock Bar Band. Utensils: four voices, two guitars, bass, drums, and occasional mandolin. Ingredients: anthemic mid-’80s influences including the Hoodoo Gurus, the Alarm, the BoDeans, and Bryan Adams. Mix indiscriminately, then blend until studio-smooth. Result: the Clarks. This quartet, long a fixture on the Pittsburgh scene, specializes in pealing guitar chords and emotive vocals—just remember to hit “skip” when a ballad comes on. Their complicated title, Love Gone Sour Suspicion and Bad Debt, quotes the disc’s standout track, “Cigarette,” a tune with a stop-start country backbeat and an uncharacteristically twangy lead vocal. The Clarks don’t take any chances on Love Gone Sour, and their energetic delivery conjures that all-American venue—the off- campus saloon lit by neon beer signs.