25-03-2024 Music 309

James Clarke Five - Zoom and The Gadflies

James Clarke Five - Zoom and The Gadflies

UK power pop artist James Clarke Five presents the album 'Zoom and The Gadflies', released via UK label Favourite Recordings, an 11-track collection of clever power pop with story-driven lyrics. Mixing classic baroque pop with strong melodies and distinctive chord changes, his melodic guitar-driven sound brings overtones of glam rock and psychedelia.

Now based in London, James Clarke Five is the solo project of James Hughes, who is perhaps best known as keyboardist and vocalist for Liverpool 80's new wave band The Cherry Boys. Contemporaries of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, its members also played with The LA’s, Cast, The Icicle Works and Lightning Seeds.

With clear nods to XTC, Adam and the Ants and Joe Meek, this album was previewed by the singles 'Gadfly Groove' (on the personal transformation of a quiet introvert to an outgoing persona), '(Who's Been On The) Big Rock Candy' (about a couple who pursue increasingly daring deeds to a pounding, feedback-driven backdrop), and 'Ghost' (bittersweet reflections on childhood and the passing of time with a melodious, atmospheric, harpsichord-driven sound).

At the age of 12, James picked up a guitar, which he has scarcely put down since. Following The Cherry Boys, Hughes was a founder member of Exhibit B, who released the cult classic album 'Playing Dead' and several singles.  

Upon moving to London in the early 2000s, Hughes launched James Clarke Five with the barnstorming single 'Get Out Of Bed' and later found success with his song 'Sexbombe Uber Alles', the main theme of the film 'Last Shop Standing'. Their most recent albums 'Underneath The Lemon Tree' (2021) and 'ParlourSounds' (2018), released by iconic Canadian label The Beautiful Music, garnered rave reviews. His music has also appeared in the film 'Soundtrack to Sixteen' and has amassed over 1.25 million Spotify streams to date.

"This album was written and recorded over a period of two and-a-half years.  As it progressed song by song, I found that it was showing a common theme inspired by the music that excited me as a child: people like Adam and The Ants, and also the likes of T Rex and the 'production style' of the Glam Rock era," explains James Hughes.

"So it gathered pace in that direction, which for me was a very exciting, if initially subconscious, development.  But then all my music is in some way an homage to the music I love, with of course my personal quirks in the mix - for example the penultimate song Buddy and Joe which is my take to the music of Joe Meek, Telstar etc.  On the other hand, D'You Not Think is inspired by psychedelic-era fairgrounds and steam organs (albeit with a 'political' lyric) and for me this song personifies the great fun I had putting this album together."

Recorded in his home studio in London, James produced and mastered this album. He performed all instruments and vocals with the exception of Mack The Sax, who plays saxophone on 'Gadfly Groove' and Karen Bates, who provides backing vocals on 'It's Been So Long'.

As of March 15, 'Zoom and The Gadflies' album is available from fine digital platforms, including Spotify, Apple and Bandcamp.  


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