Shannon And The Clams have always been an interesting fusion of garage punk, doo-wop, and even surf rock, and their newest album “Onion” is no exception. Their first outing with Dan Auerbach’s new label Easy Eye Sound, “Onion” adds a much welcome layer of polish to the band’s sound while not reinventing the wheel or drifting too far from the structure of their previous albums.
“The Boy” sets an energetic tone for the album; Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard harmonize beautifully over a soulful chorus, and the instrumentation leaves nothing to be desired. Dan Auerbach, the producer, also provides a much larger range of instruments than the band has been used to. Auerbach has never been a stranger to packing a song as full as he can, albeit sometimes to over-ambitious results. While “Onion” does suffer from songs that might be better without some of the musical additions, they do not detract from the overall experience.
Where this album really shines is in the vocal performance of Shannow Shaw, most notably in the track “Did You Love Me”. A slow pained plea, Shannon sings with haunting nuance and raw vocal power “Here at the end, did you love me? Now that it’s over, I should reach out there But I had lied, I’m made of glass, Brittle and cracked, Not many do last”. The title track “Onion” is a fast-paced distorted romp with great lyrical delivery and is full of attitude.
What might not be completely evident, even given some of the album’s dark undertones and lyrical themes, is that it comes from a place of extreme pain for the band. It was recorded after a venue they used to play at, a warehouse venue called the Ghost Ship, had burned down and killed 36 people, some of whom were friends of the band. Shannon Shaw described the recording process as being “really emotional in any direction.” She elaborated that “any other emotions that you have to tap into are equally extreme. Like on a rollercoaster. You’re terrified, and then as soon as your safe again, you’re laughing so hard.”
Ultimately, “Onion” sticks by conventions used in previous albums by the band, but expands stylistically in satisfying ways. It makes for a good introduction to the band, but also a great addition to the library of any long-term fan of the band.
“Onion” is out now, and Shannon And The Clams are embarking on tour as the opening act for Dan Auerbach and the Easy Eye Sound Revue.