There are many reasons I love the bands I love, and many of them are conflicting and many of them make no sense. Greatest of all is my love of a band that maintains a sound I adore. I’m notorious for being as cruel a critic of the dreaded sophomore slump as just about anyone. There’s something about the transition between first and second and the need to expand and the want to not be pigeonholed as whatever your first album described that so often leads to a band making an illogical jump that wasn’t needed and certainly isn’t invited. What happens is intentional, forced progress that drags the band to some new sonic landscape too quickly, disorienting and defeating their fan-base, when all they needed and wanted was 10 more songs that played on the album that came before. Flip the coin though and the idea of band that continues to pump out the same album year after year is equally as debilitating. No one wants to hear the same album on repeat for an entire career, we (or I) want forward momentum, just at the right time for the right reasons.
Which bring me to Shannon & The Clams and their new track “Gremlin Crawl.” Shannon and her mollusk-y ilk arrived when the 60s were the new palette for emerging bands, a drunken, raging, back-stage debacle who’s music toyed with the idea of the exposed wires that so many clean-cut doo-wop groups tried to hide from their white-toothed fans. The pill bottle was left open, the bottle of brandy stood empty on the bedside table. Fast forward three years and Shannon and The Clams are still doing what they do best but with “Gremlin Crawl” they’ve stepped away from the frayed edges of debauchery and segued, seamlessly, in to the heavy-lidded aftermath of a night spent painting the town vermillion. It’s slow and sad and repetitive, with the voices of all involved barely finding each other in the melancholic haze of a hangover. Progress, quite simply, at its best.
“Gremlin Crawl” lands August 17th on Volar Records.
Seattle can see Shannon & the Clams this Friday as part of PIZZA FEST 2012 at the Funhouse.
Shannon & The Clams will be in full splendor at The Total Trash BBQ at the Continental Club in Oakland on August 17th.