Shannon & The Clams | Onion | Album Review

Record Label: Hardly Art Records
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Photo courtesy of: Pitchfork

Shannon & The Clams is perhaps the closest thing this generation will ever get to real rock ‘n’ roll. With Del Shannon and John Waters as clear (and endearing) reference points, The Clams bring back the absurdness of The Cramps and the captivating nostalgia of every classic 60s rock group.

The Clams’ fifth studio album Onion doesn’t pack quite the campy punch as their past albums, but when considering the tragic inspiration behind the album, it’s hard to blame them. Catalyzed by the harrowing Ghost Ship fires in Oakland—where The Clams hail from—the band takes a heartfelt stab at sorrowful ballads backed with 50s doo-wop and girl-pop rhythms, as opposed to their kitsch rockabilly, Pink Flamingo-esque charm.

The only distinct difference heard on this album is the unmistakable refinement in the production. There are no more grinding guitars or lo-fi vocal quality—instead, clear-as-day guitar strings plucking behind the polished, almost genteel, vocals of singers Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard.

The most offbeat (or maybe on-beat) track for this already offbeat band is “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” This gripping serenade about grief and loss is backed by melancholic and dreamy guitar strums with soft organ notes against Shaw’s astonishing vocals and, to some dismay, includes no mic feedback was signature to their past albums.

This album was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, which explains the sudden polishing of The Clams’ charmingly dirty edges. But despite the fact that the quartet’s signature lo-fi 60s garage rock sound has been significantly toned down on Onion, the album still shines like the dirt-covered diamond that it is.

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