Shannon & the Clams: Onion Review

By Eduardo Baz
Music Journalist

Artist: Shannon & the Clams
Album: Onion
Label: Easy Eye Sound
Release Date: February 16, 2018

Shannon & the Clams have just about perfected their musical style with their prior four releases and their new release, Onion. They fuse a ’60s rock and roll surf sound with a ’50s aesthetic in virtually all of their projects and they continuously perform shows in costumes that are very reminiscent of something show performers would wear nearly seven decades ago. Imagine a Del Shannon song only fused with a modern punky garage sound that includes minor references of psychedelia (a prime example of this is actually Shannon & the Clams’ cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”).

However in Onion, their sound and instrumentation has become tighter and feels more polished. This is in large part due to the fact that The Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has taken the Clams under his promotional and artistic wing. He produced and recorded the Clams’ fifth album in his “Easy Eye Sound” studio and imprinted his brand. This change towards a more high profile producer has not sacrificed any of the Clams’ rawness or authenticity, rather, it has lent them the ability to produce songs that have more defined hooks and choruses and tighter syncopation and instrumentation among the band’s members. Every song off of Onion contains the Clams’ recognized charm and provides enough differentiation from one another to lend to the record’s overall variety.

Opening track “The Boy” immediately introduces the listener to the Clams’ familiar ’50s aesthetic, which begins with a delicately strummed guitar riff that opens up into a bluesy rock and roll jam sung by frontwoman/bassist Shannon Shaw. In addition, the accompanying music video perfectly depicts their visual aesthetic. The track list reveals song after song of caffeinated, high energy, rock and roll garage jams. However, it does so in a way where every song is unique and sounds different from the last. There are a couple of songs sprinkled into the album that possess a much slower pace. The track “Tryin’” contains a sad bluesy chord progression layered underneath Shaw’s pleading vocals describing how we are all “tryin’” to deal with our own individual struggles, and the track “Did You Love Me” reminisces over a lost relationship and asks “Now that it’s over, did you love me?”

This latest release from Shannon & the Clams confidently does what the group has been doing for nearly 10 years now with the release of four previous full-length albums. That is, creating music that is fun and kooky and heavily nostalgic of decades past while still managing to produce something that is modern and relative to other music being released in the same genre. With the release of Onion, The Clams have solidified themselves as one of the top underrepresented rock and roll jammers.

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