A delightful medley of influences
Following in the trail of the earlier, much smaller project this year, Cub Scout Bowling Pins’ (comprising members of the band Guided by Voices) latest work, Clang Clang Ho, takes more sweeping strokes in its influences. With many genres acting as inspiration, the album is a fun, lightweight album that contrasts with much of the works created in the past few years in the rock industry. With an inclination for the elevation of the mundane, there is a certain whimsy in listening that is impossible to deny.
This is introduced in the song “Magic Taxi,” a track that has bright production work that elevates it beyond the more repetitive verses. Its vintage sound makes it feel quite refreshing. It’s a track that has summer written all over it—from its welcoming vocals to its shiny acoustics. Similarly, “Flip Flop World” has an undeniable influence from the Beach Boys, with its droning guitar work and rambling vocals. However, these works are hardly derivative, taking their own creative liberties to create a cinematic soundscape.
The album turns to a more campy edge, such as with “Ride My Earthmobile,” which has creepy vocals. It seems like a perverted distortion of the earlier track “Magic Taxi,” taking into more hard-rock influences to make it far less bright than previous tracks. Similarly, “Eggs, Mother?” has distorted vocals at a distance. With its far-away sound, the more pop-based piano instrumentals negate its edge, creating an enjoyable listen with an undeniably catchy bassline.
Perhaps the strongest song on the album, “Nova Mona” takes the driving influence of 1970s rock, specifically the London rock scene of the time, with a Bowie-esque groove. The brief instrumental break especially has a lovely homage component to it, with guitar and piano colliding in perfect harmony. “It’s Marbles” has a similar sound, with a sample that connects to progressive rock. With similar instrumentals but different influences, they act as sister songs that showcase the diverse range of influences throughout the album.
The closing tracks provide a satisfying conclusion to the lengthy work. The closing track, “What Crawls Also Flies Over,” is one of the most folk-inspired tracks on the album. The plucky acoustic guitar is a perfect sound for the album to conclude. The amalgamation of many genres truly shows the versatility of the band, allowing it to be one showcase of rock music. Multi-generational in nature, the fact that Clang Clang Ho ends with folk-rock is not lost. Being one of the most prevalent inspirations in current rock and alternative music, it seems to be a satisfying conclusion to the many decades of inspiration that span the album.