Shannon and The Clams release their fifth studio album, Onion, via Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound label.
Onion, produced by The Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach at his Nashville studio, finds a finely tuned and tour-tested band stretching out from the 60s-inspired, surf inflected rock that has defined their previous releases, and delves into genres including soul and psychedelic pop.
On their new LP, the band explores themes of origin and self-determination, loss and recovery, and the power of community to heal after tragedy. Album opener The Boy is quintessential Clams. Written by Cody, the track speaks about the way childhood experiences stick with and shape you, for better or worse, and hang around forever like baggage until you choose to lose them. It’s Gonna Go Away, written by Shannon, is the album’s biggest stylistic departure and muses on the notion that all in life is temporary, the good and the bad, and finding comfort in that.
Shannon and The Clams had already begun writing for the Onion sessions in autumn 2016 when their world was rattled by the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire in early December. In the wake of the fire, the band looked back at their origins in the Oakland underground and the importance of that world to their genesis. They could recognize the community as a delicate incubator for fringe art, and an unstable but nurturing place for performers to practice and cross-pollinate where there otherwise is no platform. The song Backstreets is Cody’s response to the Ghost Ship fire, and particularly the issues of artist housing and being forced to make your own way in a society that is not arranged to accommodate artists. Album closer Don’t Close Your Eyes is Shannon’s response, an inspirational ballad urging those suffering through loss to not give up in the midst of tragedy.
Over the last decade, Shannon and her chief collaborator guitarist Cody Blanchard have released four albums of ‘60s-inspired pop on indie labels, toured tirelessly and have gradually solidified a lineup of devoted Bay Area musicians. In this current iteration, Shannon and The Clams, consisting of Shannon Shaw on bass and vocals, Cody Blanchard on guitar and vocals, Nate Mahan on drums, and Will Sprott on keyboards, have developed notoriety for lively and genuine stage performances and a zealous following that craves their particular authenticity and innovation on classic sounds.