What is it about three-piece bands hold our attention? How do they slam all that sound into their music? In the grand tradition of Cream, Green Day, Motorhead, Nirvana, The Police and ZZ Top – to name a few – Dallas, Texas, has unleashed another wall-of-sound trio in the band, Clifffs. Out now via State Fair Records is the brutally tight Panic Attack.
Panic Attack has 13 tracks, starting with the first five, “Undone”, “Manatee”, “Into The Salt”, “You Are Freaking Out” and “It’s All Gone Wrong”. Not to be smug, but let’s just say if you’re looking for a go-get ’em cowboy song, these aren’t them. These songs are fury, these songs are punk. Much of the lyrics are repeated, as in the first track: “you know this can’t be undone, you know this can’t be undone” and you get the impression these songs are constant insecurities. It’s just an immediate reaction and the way that front man (and presumably songwriter) John Dufilho delivers the news, he’s pouring his ever-loving soul out to his listeners. He’s joined on bass by Andy Lester, with Bill Spellman at the drum kit. The rhythm section also takes the mics with backing vocals. These songs, while they touch on darker, cynical moods, make the listener feel alive.
The next five tracks, “I Might Try Physics”, “Gotta Fix This Now”, “Panic Attack”, “Dark Clouds” and “Drown The Thought” might better yet be too Sylvia Plath for some, but again, the brightness in the guitars just wash over the insecurities. It’s relatable. It’s real. In the title track, Dufilho has this echoey-way of singing “panic attack” and his “don’t know why” has this strange way of making him sound vulnerable, nearly childlike. The juxtaposition of the two are intriguing and the way he’s presented feels emblematic of the jumble in your head during a panic attack. That anxiety, man, it’s a bitch.
The final three tracks “Stipe”, “Tilt” and “Life” close out a very fine album. All of these songs on Panic Attack are just so tight with the constant barrage of bass, guitar and drums. These instruments play off each other like ping pong to a paddle. In the “Life” the band stakes its claim and sings over-and-over “we’re just getting started, we’re just getting started, just getting started.”
These songs capture the sound of ideas running around in your head. When you have a panic attack, this coming from first-hand experience, you do feel like sound is pelting you from every direction. All 13-tracks on Panic Attack have that insane power. Only, as a listener, you aren’t covering your ears and hoping they shut up. Crank this one loud, music lovers, Clifffs is a band worth jumping into. Fans of Green Day, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Hives, The White Stripes, The Strokes and The Vines and especially Nirvana, looking to stir up their musical library will want to take a listen to these track with special consideration to the title track, “You Are Freaking Out”, “Stipe” and “Life”.