Review: Mikal Cronin, Shannon and The Clams, Roomrunner, The Migs @ Great Scott (6/17/13)


Bands: Mikal Cronin, Shannon and the Clams, Roomrunner, The Migs
Date: Monday, June 17, 2013
Venue: Great Scott (Allston, MA)

The Migs – HOLY SHIT, IT’S THE MIGS!!! Man oh man, it’s a huge pleasure of ours to see New Hampshire’s finest up on stage once again, it’s been way too long. Wayyyy too long. Vintage Migs Keven, Lukas, and Craig are joined by a new drummer by the name of Alex (well new to us, but apparently he’s been rockin’ with the fellas for several months). What up Alex?!

The Migs are one of the greatest live bands I’ve seen. The songs are solid, if a little bit rough around the edges, but in a live setting the songs simply hit you with a greater force. In addition to The Migs’ undeniable grasp on 60’s garage rock, R& B, soul, blues, and a pinch of doo wop, they provide pure entertainment.  It’s the little things that separate them from most other garage/rock ‘n’ roll groups. Their coy, innocent dancing and sudden bursts of laughter effectively match the joyful, tension free style of music they embody.  It’s fun. It’s joy, like the Black Lips taught me, joy could be an aesthetic – could be meaningful. And The Migs do their best to make sure everyone has  a fun time.

The band’s unhesitating interaction with their audience is a feature of The Migs that I have admired since day one (4/20/12 for me). I remember back then, fanatically telling people about  a band I saw the other night (which is what usually happens after I experience a special band). I extensively proselytized my love for The Migs, “you have to see this band, they play in the crowd, they play with the people!” It was like something out of Fugazi or Lightning Bolt or something crazy like that, something I had only seen in videos. Tonight, The Migs don’t play in the crowd or on the floor, but it’s not a big deal because it’s not quite the same unless it’s a grimy, crowded basement. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm and entertainment is still very much intact.

Up until now, I have suffered through endless months of Migs withdrawal, but this performance brings me back to the good old times. The quartet concludes with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic, “The Last Time.” I certainly hope it’s not the last time.  Go see em’ live! http://themigs.bandcamp.com/

Roomrunner – Naturally, going into a show like this I’m biased. I’ve been a longtime fan of Shannon and the Clams, seen Mikal Cronin in the Ty Segall Band (not to mention liking and enjoying some of his music) and of course I hold The Migs near and dear – taking in several of their shows in the previous year. Roomrunner, on the other hand, is foreign to me. For the first few songs, I can nod along to this Baltimore based band, but after a while I’ve had enough. It’s certainly not as upbeat as The Migs, but Roomrunner do have some power in them and they definitely write some decent songs, but they’re simply too sad for me or not sad enough haha. I did find their in between song banter to be quite amusing though. The vocalist/guitarist even introduces the classic “we have one/two more songs left” ( a line that practically every band utters at one point in their lives) as a phrase that everyone loves to hear; in this instance I concur. That being said, I do appreciate Roomrunner’s sense of humor, even if their sound is not exactly my bag. Apparently, they are also on a string of tour dates with Shannon and the Clams and Mikal Cronin. Kudos gentlemen. Check them out here: http://roomrunner.bandcamp.com/

Shannon and the Clams – I’ve been waiting two years to see this band! I love Shannon and the Clams and tonight I can finally cross them off of my “top 5 bands to see live” list. The trio, which includes vocalist/guitarist Cody Blanchard (King Lolipop), vocalist/bassist Shannon Shaw (Hunx and His Punx), and new drummer Nate are known for creating a raw, analog flavored, bizarre take on 60’s  pop music, implementing elements of garage and doo wop – not to mention 70’s punk, making the band a sheer bestial force.

So, with these elements in mind, one can understand why weird, off kilterish pop/rock ‘n’ roll,  garage punk rock fans such as myself would simply adore the music of Shannon and the Clams. Their recordings are near flawless, but seeing them up on stage is incredible. They open tonight’s show with 2011’s “Sleep Talk” off the album of the same name and what appears to be the main source of  this evening’s set. A solid opener and a favorite of mine at that, they continue with other Sleep Talk tunes such as the soft, doo wop morphed fast punker “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers” to the straight up slower, ballady gems in “Oh, Louie” and “Done With You.”

The finest cut from Sleep Talk/my all time favorite Shannon and the Clams song and the one that seems to generate the greatest crowd response is “The Cult Song.” This number showcases what is  fantastic and utterly strange about Shannon and the Clams. The song builds with a fast, pulsing drum beat backed by Cody’s  bizarro vocals and Shannon’s seemingly endless chants “one of us! one of us! one of us!” as made infamous by 1932 cult horror classic, Freaks.  The band attempts to persuade their audience that they are sane in the lines “WE ARE NOT UNDER MIND CONTROL” but by the end of the song I think most of us would happily join the Shannon and the Clams cult! This song in particular reminds me of why I admire a band like this what with all of their little idiosyncrasies and good old fashioned weirdness. Maybe, it’s not even weirdness. Just taste.

I’ve gone on and on about my love for Sleep Talk, but the band has actually just released their debut for Hardly Art entitled Dreams in the Rat House. I have to admit I am not overly familiar with the songs on this album, having only heard it once or twice now. With that being said, I do recognize them playing the song “Rip Van Winkle” tonight and as expected they kill it.

As I have noted thus far, the vocals are one of the hallmarks of Shannon and the Clams’ music. With this in mind, a rather distinguished moment in the set is when Shannon and Cody both see how loud they can sing with each Clam trying to top the other. This is entertaining, but also shows us just how phenomenal their voices are.

Point is, go see Shannon and the Clams live if you get a chance or better yet pick up one or all of their amazing records.

Mikal Cronin – For starters, I am only vaguely familiar with a couple of Mikal Cronin songs, but Co-KLYAMER Glen is a huge fan. He’s shown me some sweet Mikal Cronin tunes in the past and I agree that it is solid psychedelic pop/garage rock.

I mentioned earlier that we have seen Mikal Cronin before in The Ty Segall Band, well Mikal is joined by fellow Ty Segall band mate Emily Rose Epstein on drums. Mikal and Emily are just as talented as they were with Ty; the whole band is exceptional actually. If you like Ty Segall, then I’d recommend you check out Mikal Cronin, as you will most likely enjoy the similar style. Mikal and crew seem to perform more solos however, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but typically not my thing.

I mainly came to see Shannon and The Clams (and The Migs!), but Mikal Cronin and his band are also impressive. The crowd appears to be a bit of a mixture of Clams and Cronin fans with some natural overlap. Considering he is the headliner, more people probably came to see him, but I am positive that all four bands tonight left the sold out crowd with a lasting impression.

Best Of 2011 – Glen’s Favorite Albums


1. Black Lips
Arabia Mountain – My excitement for this album grew steadily once the news came out that they were working on one in early 2010. The original release date set for “when school gets back in” was pushed back once Ronson joined as co-producer. As we all know by now, the band had a delightful time working with him. So it’s no coincidence that Arabia is filled with some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a while. The sound production is not as muddy and psychedelic as the band’s previous effort 200 Million Thousand; instead, it’s clean and clear. The songs themselves cross the kind of rock and roll terrain that the Lips have always found themselves in, including but not limited to: clangy, jangly, country, punk. This stuff is addicting (for people with an ear for it like me) and tough to remove from the record player. I guess that’s a quality that the best album of the year should possess. 


2. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread – This is another one that I was counting the days until release. Ty’s last record Melted received an ‘honorable mention’ in my Best of 2010, but would have comfortably cracked the Top 5 if I redid my list a few months later. Goodbye Bread was a quintessential summer listen and still holds the test of time as this part of the country is freezing over. The thing that Ty does so well (and has always done so well) is arranging his songs. There’s optimal fuzz, hard-pounding drums, and a lingering bass line in nearly every song at some point and a lot of it is unexpected and fresh. I love the opening of “You Make the Sun Fry,” and the ever so crunchy chorus in “My Head Explodes,” in particular. Goodbye Bread affirms Ty’s status as one of the most talented song writers in modern rock and roll. At the least, it goes to show that noisy relatively straight-forward garage isn’t all the dude is about. 


3. Atlas Sound
Parallax – Last year (as I just said above) I made the folly of overlooking some records. Another one of them was Halcyon Digest. Sure, it was among my Top 10, but I didn’t really appreciate as much in 2010 as I should have. With Parallax, I gave it several listens before reviewing it and over the course of listening the real beauty of it really came out. It’s mainly a light affair with several streaks of brilliance that some could dub ‘experimental’ or ‘odd’, but to me is just as pop as anything typically labeled that. Bradford knows catchy better than most. The by product of this is a mass of songs that are inspirational and healing. 


4. The Beets
 – Let The Poison Out – The Beets are one of those bands that I regret not getting more into earlier on in my KLYAM career. After seeing them open for No Age at Wellesley College back in April 2009, I failed to do significant follow up research. Well, now I’d say I’m fairly well versed on the Beets; all the credit to them for infectious releases and superb live performances. Let The Poison Out works so well because it’s just so hard to not be hooked on the Beets raw rock, pop, n’ roll . It makes me want to start pounding on some drums while blasting it loudly. “Doing As I Do” and “I Think I Might Have Built A Horse” are sing-alongs like none other. 


5. Mikal Cronin
 – Mikal Cronin – You can tell this guy has spent some quality time hanging around Ty Segall. Not to say he hasn’t spent quality time with other musicians. The Moonhearts are nice. Well anyway, this album really captivated me as it fits in perfectly on a scale of Ty and Thee Oh Sees. Like those folks’ records, Mikal Cronin is quite instantaneously hooky (with like two exceptions, but those are still real good). Picking favorites is a challenge. I love “Situation” a great deal, because right from the get-go it is extremely fun. The San Fran rock ‘n roll region had quite a 2011.

Honorable Mentions

Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk
The Orwells – Remember When
Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Natural Child 1971
Mark Sultan Whatever I Want
The Hussy Cement Tomb Mind Control
Davila 666 Tan Bajo

Best Of 2011: Glen’s Favorite Songs

Rather than release a countdown or a numbered list, I’ve decided to try something different!!!!! Band and song. Keepin’ it simple. 

Arctic Monkeys- “Black Treacle
Atlas Sound – “Lightworks,” “Mona Lisa
Babies – “Meet Me In The City
Bass Drum of Death – “Get Found
Beets – “I Think I Might Have Built A Horse
Black Keys – “Lonely Boy
Black Lips – “Family Tree,” “Modern Art,” “Mr. Driver
Colleen Green – “Rabid Love
Diarrhea Planet – “Fauser
Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down
Fat History Month – “Old Lady Smokers
Gaye Blades
 – “Don’t Get Married
Girls
– “Magic
Handsome Furs – “Repatriated
The Hussy – “Sexi Ladi
Mark Sultan – “Song In Grey,” “Graveyard Eyes
Mind Spiders – “Don’t Let Her Go
M-Tank – “Don’t Miss You
Natural Child – “Hard Workin’ Man
Night Beats – “Ain’t Dumbo
Orwells – “Lays At Rest,” “Halloween All Year
Panda Bear – “Last Night At The Jetty
Peach Kelli Pop – “Girls of Summer,” “Eenie Meenie Minie Moe
Shannon and the Clams – “Baby Don’t Do It
The Strokes – “Under Cover of Darkness
Thee Oh Sees – “I Need Seed,” “If I Stay Too Long
Those Darlins – “Be Your Bro
Ty Segall – “My Head Explodes,” “You Make The Sun Fry

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