At first listen, ‘From Six to Midnight’ (the second EP by Dublin based rock band The Clap) sounds like an inoffensive blend of moody lyrics and sultry guitar rhythms – nothing bad, but nothing surprising either.

But when I came to the fourth track on the EP, I Think I’m In Over my Head, I literally had to pause my music player and take a step back. Frontman Simon Moore’s vocals suddenly transform from the smoothness of the previous tracks into a gruff, gravelly bark that sounds exactly like Tom Waits, or at least an impersonation of Waits’ distinctive style.

At first I thought this was a paltry imitation, without anything original to bring to bear. But then I went back and listened to Think I’m In Over my Head again. And again. And pretty soon I had reached the to the point where the Tom Waits vocals seemed less like a poor imitation and more like the only way that this song could possibly be sung.

Of course, it sounds like a Tom Waits song, but it more importantly it sounds like a good Tom Waits song – like a demented sea shanty that wouldn’t seem out of place on the Rain Dogs album. The lyrics are the tough yet infectious version of poetry that clearly show the influence of songwriters like Waits or Nick Cave, and the Clap have just about enough fiery energy to pull off this kind of homage and still manage to make it their own.

Once this link has been made, it’s hard not to notice little nods to Waits (and other influences like Nick Cave and Frank Zappa) scattered throughout the other tracks, albeit more subtly.  Cover to Cover kicks off the EP with a bluesy piano intro, before firing into a full on hard rock guitar riff, while The Sorrow slows things down to the pace of a funeral dirge. Meanwhile Eulogy is a powerful rock song which descends into a series of grungy guitar solos, with piano running throughout that somehow doesn’t sound out of place.

From Six to Midnight is a weird mix of sounds from a band that wears their influences clearly on their sleeves and yet still manages to carve out a style that isn’t quite like anything else out there. And the more time you listen to the EP, the more you appreciate how much effort has been devoted to bringing this diverse collection of influences together in such a tight little package.

The EP is free to download now from the Clap’s website. It is well worth a listen.

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