Max Clarke conjures Merseybeat on his new EP as Cut Worms, but his pop instincts are timeless | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Max Clarke conjures Merseybeat on his new EP as Cut Worms, but his pop instincts are timeless 

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click to enlarge Cut Worms

Cut Worms

Caroline Gohlke

The latest EP by Cut Worms, Alien Sunset (Jagjaguwar), opens with “Don’t Want to Say Goodbye,” which sounds like a lost Merseybeat classic dubbed onto a beat-up old cassette. But it’s more than just a crafty imitation of a naive early-60s Brit rocker in love with the Everly Brothers—its irresistible melody would sound great in any era. Max Clarke began making music as Cut Worms before leaving Chicago for New York in October 2015, and he recorded the six ditties on Alien Sunset with an eight-track tape machine—side A here, side B there. The more recent tunes feel less bound to such a specific time period—album closer “Song of the Highest Tower” makes it obvious that Clarke loves the strummy elegance of Lou Reed’s songs on the Velvet Underground’s self-titled third album, but he’s not re-creating it. A Cut Worms studio album is in the can, due for release next year, and though I’m curious whether a more professional product will have the no-frills charm of these home recordings, I’m pretty confident Clarke knows how to write hooky songs.   v

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