UK indie rock artist James Clarke Five presents the new single ‘Ghost’, previewing the album ‘Zoom and The Gadflies’, slated for release on March 15 via Favourite Recordings. With bittersweet reflections on childhood and the passing of time, this melodious, atmospheric, harpsichord-driven sound is reminiscent of film music by the likes of John Barry, Burt Bacharach, and Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys.

Much like Cocteau Twins was not actually a duo, James Clarke Five is the solo project of James Hughes. He 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, whose members also played with The LA’s, Cast, The Icicle Works and Lightning Seeds. With a slight resemblance to The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Hughes now lives in London.

With sometimes story-driven or politically-edged lyrics, James Clarke Five mixes classic baroque pop with strong melodies and distinctive chord changes, but with a more raw, guitar driven sound with overtones of glam rock and psychedelia. The new album also includes some clear nods to XTCk, Adam and the Ants and Joe Meek.

James explains, “This is a more ‘reflective’ song inspired by film soundtracks from the likes of John Barry, and also ‘vintage’ TV themes for which I have a great affection. For me the song adds an extra dimension to what is an otherwise ‘upbeat’ album”.

‘Ghost’ follows the singles ‘Gadfly Groove’, celebrating the personal transformation of a quiet, tentative introvert to an outgoing, gadfly-like persona, and ‘(Who’s Been On The) Big Rock Candy’, which tells the story of a couple who pursue increasingly daring deeds from roller coaster rides and cliff edges to runaway trains, all to a pounding, feedback-driven backdrop.

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.

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 February 23, ‘Ghost’ is available from fine digital platforms, including Spotify, Apple and Bandcamp. The full ‘Zoom and The Gadflies’ album will be released on March 15 and is already available for pre-order.

1 . (Who’s Been On The) Big Rock Candy
2 . D’You Not Think?
3 . Gadfly Groove
4 . Ghost
5 . Pineapple Rock
6 . Manhattan Pigeon
7 . Hot Chicory Bop
8 . It’s Been So Long
9 . Zoomdust
10 . Buddy and Joe
11 . Goodbye Patience

All songs written by James Clarke (AKA James Hughes), except ‘It’s Been So Long’ by Donaldson / Adamson
Karen Bates – backing vocals on track 8
Mac The Sax – saxophone on track 3
All other instruments and vocals by James Clarke
Produced by James Clarke
Cover artwork by James Clarke