Album Review: Shannon and the Clams- Sleep Talk

Artist: Shanon and the Clams
Full Title: Sleep Talk
Year: 2011
Label: 1-2-3-4 GO!
Tracklist:

1. Baby Don’t Do It
2. You Will Always Bring Me Flowers
3. The Cult Song
4. Done With You
5. Tired of Being Bad
6. Oh Louie
7. King of the Sea
8. Old Man Winter
9. Toxic Revenge
10. The Woodsman
11. Half Rat
12. Sleep Talk

Comments: I was going to make a valiant effort to not mention Hunx and His Punx during this review since they are obviously a separate entity, but I can’t help it. I’m a superfan! I’ve said it before and I certainly will say it again, the Hunx song “U Don’t Like Rock and Roll,” exemplifies my current thoughts on most of the music I’ve been enjoying for the past couple of years. In that song it is made clear what is Rock and Roll what is not. Fuck U2! Morrissey is okay lol. All jokes aside, for several of us music lovers there is only one true Rock and Roll, and now I will finally get to my point: Shannon and the Clams is the real deal- if you don’t like Shannon and the Clams then I don’t like you! The Clams do a great job of recreating the old sounds of the 60s (amongst other eras/genres- but I’ll get to that later). Both stylistically and sonically they revive the music of decades prior, though they aren’t a complete revivalist band and I’m glad for that. In terms of the recording, they have that great analog sound that once again makes the music feel more like the good old times. In particular, the drums sound excellent, you can hear them very clear, the whole record is very clear and sounds pretty clean, but in a good way. The high quality of the recording and production really complements the fabulous performances and songwriting. The band explores various classic styles of Rock and Roll: Girl Groups (“Baby, Don’t Do It,” “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers”), Teen Tragedy Ballads (“Done With You,” “Oh Louie,” “Tired of Being Bad,” and “The Woodsman”), and loud, fast driving Ramones-esque Punk numbers (“King of the Sea,” “Toxic Revenge), just to name a few. This mixture of different staples of Rock really spices up the album and keeps the listener entertained and excited for most of the record; it makes the band that much stronger and better than many of their peers. Concerning the structure of the record, overall it works well, the different kinds of songs are smoothly thrown in at different moments in the record, so you never really feel overwhelmed or like any style is overstaying its welcome. “Baby Don’t Do It,” is a truly solid opener and gets you pumped for the rest of the record. Essentially it does what every intro should, set the mood for the record and make your eyes light up enough to want to hear what will happen next. The awesomeness continues with “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers,” one of the strongest songs on this LP. Just a great example of how The Clams can be really soft and sweet at one point and then really let the song take off and go into a new dimension; I love when the song starts to pick up and gets louder, I really feel the passion in Shannon Shaw’s voice, a lot of power. Which by the way, I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned her voice in this review up until now. Her vocals are incredible- top three best living singers, and probably the best part of this record, but I’m not totally positive on that yet, since there’s so much to admire. With that being said, I’m not completely in love with this LP. There’s nothing I hate about this record and every song is at least decent (most are quite fine), but at the same time, for me anyway, the album starts to drag or settle down and I lose some of my initial excitement. I sort of get really used to the aesthetic of the album and I’m looking for something more. Some of the songs just pale next to others, but that could just me my tastes. A song like “Sleep Talk,” however leaves the album on an especially high note. Definitely one of my favorites from the record, the title track is an excellent closer that just has that wonderful feeling of completion to it. Almost like when you hear the first Ramones record for the first time and “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World,” kicks in. You know it’s the end, but there’s still enough time to have fun! Certainly one of the catchier songs on the album and mixes both the softer and heavier aspects of The Clams very nicely, the best track to dance to lol. In this same vein, “The Cult Song,” is by far the best track here. It exemplifies everything great this band has to offer and has their sound down pat. The song is heavy and bizarre and surely gets you rocking. Another flaw for me in this record is the lack of interesting subject matter, but that’s not really a major concern of mine because I don’t pay too much attention to lyrics anyway. But, “The Cult Song,” is pretty sweet both lyrically and musically. On this cut, the band makes a humorous reference to the Pre-Pre Punk, Ramones-inpsiring, Horror classic Freaks (1932) through the constant, psychotic chanting of “ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!” Fo sho, Cult’ contains the most fun you’ll experience on this record. So, yeah I recommend this to people that really dig this kind of sound- if this old school Rock and Roll and old school Punk is your thang, then you will most likely love this to death. If that’s not your cup of tea, you will probably get bored easily. I’m more of the former and I can tell now this will appear on my “Best of 2011” lists. This is a great companion with (the aforementioned) Hunx and His Punx’s Too Young to Be in Love (2011), Shaw’s other band, but Sleep Talk has more of a Rock edge to it, though just as much as fun and heart.

Grade: 8/10

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