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Panic Attack LP by Cliffs

Clifffs is a band that cranks things up. Fast guitars. Rowdy drums. Gurgling bass. It’s all there in the play-it-loud or don’t bother album Panic Attack. The sophomore effort from this Dallas trio is a concoction of punk, rock and proudly messy, Panic Attack lays it on the line in 13-tracks all worthy of line copy. In searching for answers on how to live in a world where modern music is flushed through computers and all its bells and whistles fabricate sounds, Clifffs jumps off the band wagon and puts forth a valiant effort.

Undeniably independent, Clifffs has John Dufilho up front on guitar and vocals, Andy Lester on bass guitar and vocals and Bill Spelllman on drums and vocals. All of ‘em sing, and there’s no room for any member to not play. Each song has this strand of consistency – the rhythm section in each band is numbing. It’s relentlessly good and calls to mind the exciting hurricane of sounds like Franz Ferdinand. These songs, especially “Into The Salt” and “You Are Freaking Out” are proof in the pudding that they would really translate in a live setting.

Lyrically, the songs are not complicated. Much of the songs have repetitive lines (the last track, “Life” especially. In “I Might Try Physics” there’s this quirky, disjointed guitar riff and tone, as Dufilho sings “I lay awake on the floor, what’s the point, anxiety it can get the best of me, you don’t care about it, you don’t care at all” as the bassline follows in line…dum, dum, dum, in a sad-sack sort of way. It’s not quite Green Days’ “Longview” but it’s pretty damn cool.

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The title track is killer. It branched out just a bit in terms of pace and speed. There’s a recording of another voice saying, “listen honey, if I’m not gone by now, I’m not ever going to be gone” and you get this sense that the track’s point is about anxiety and its constant red-headed stepsister, depression. The brightness in the guitars and the shaking percussion gives the listener a feeling of that panic moment, that heart-racing feeling.

Finally worth noting is the song “Dark Clouds”. Again, the heightened, urgent feeling is conveyed through the guitar orchestrations. This songs music bed is alarming and lyrics like “no one can take away what we got, we’re self-taught” and the song just gets stuck in your head pretty quickly. “Dark Clouds” is yet another song with a distinctive music bed where as a listener you don’t feel like you’re hearing the same song over and over. At times, and this is the only complaint with Panic Attack (and it happens with many, many bands), is that because the singer might sound the same in most songs. It’s not a bad complaint by any means, but it’s the downside. I think that’s just a punk thing, too.

Overall, Clifffs have converted me into a new fan. Truly, I’d love to hear these tracks live and can already be ready for the caffeinated, sweat-inducing guitar rocking, unforgettable bass and the slamming drums

John McCall

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