Cut Worms opens for The Lemon Twigs tonight (02.21) at Bowery Ballroom

Cut Worms is the nom de plume of singer/songwriter/one-man-band Max Clarke, whose spate of releases between 2015 and 2016 transform the lead of past genres into new gold. See him (and his make-shift band) tonight at the Bowery Ballroom, where Cut Worms opens for critical darlings the Lemon Twigs. Back to the recordings: at first, the influences seem easy enough to pin down, as in the case of recent single "Don't Want to Say Goodbye" (streaming). If it's all Clarke in the studio, he should proceed to make a video of himself playing every member of Gerry and the Pacemakers on stage at the "Ed Sullivan Show," as musically and vocally he faithfully recreates the sound of like minded bands from that era. B-side "Like Going Down Sideways" is less melodic overall, but infinitely more complex. It starts out like an early seventies acoustic ballad (think Lobo or Rodriguez), then veers into a variety of directions—a sprinkling of Gram Parsons, a dash of the Everly Brothers—which suggest a rather deep knowledge of pop history, and an uncommon ability to write retro pop songs. Then there are the "Soft Boiled Demos, Pt. 1-8," an MP3 offering from mid-2016, which falls somewhere between a set of lost Buddy Holly demos and the more showy retroism of Ryan Adams. Single "Mad About You" is pure allegory: a walk down Broadway, with the wind in his hair, evinces the hidden order of the cosmos. We'll have to wait and see what ultimately becomes of Cut Worms but for now, we can certainly enjoy his tracks, and let them transport us back to a time when pop songwriting was governed by different laws. - Brian Chidester