Shannon and the Clams
The American West. America’s America. It was here in three very different worlds that Shannon and the Clams were spawned. From the dark redwood forests of Oregon emerged Cody Blanchard: singer and guitarist. The dusty walnut orchards and vineyards of northern California gave us Shannon Shaw: singer and bassist. Out of the lonely dunes of California’s central coast shambled Nate Mayhem: drummer and keys. These three talented visual artists were drawn separately to Oakland, California and it was there that the Clams began playing house parties and grimy clubs.
The band was forged in the anachronistic remote communities of the west, in some strange mixture of computer show and country fair; their music is some odd alloy of The Last Picture Show and The Decline of Western Civilization. The pioneer spirit of western life is all over this band: pushing into the unknown, blazing their own trail, creating their own destiny, with the accompanying canyon-esque loneliness and untamed joy only truly known by those with the courage to pull up stakes and head off into the big empty sunset.
Gone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection. Shannon and Cody have not written generic songs about love or the lack of it. Instead they have written about their very own specific heartbreak, mistreatment, and mental trials. The emotion is palpable. On Gone by the Dawn the Clams have DARED TO BE REAL. They’ve exposed their true emotions, which is what’s most moving about the album. People are scared to be so real. Society does not encourage it. Folks remain guarded to protect themselves from being mocked, punished, and becoming outcast . The Clams have opted to forgo the potential tongue-clucking finger-waggers, and have instead had the artistic courage and audacity to splay their pain and struggles out for all to hear. We are lucky to hear them get so damn real.
For Gone by the Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance-man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged.
Nowadays, it’s exceedingly rare for a two-and-half minute rock song to have raw emotional power, but with Gone by the Dawn Shannon and the Clams have gifted us an entire album of them.
Since banding together in 2012, psychedelic cumbia-punk trio Thee Commons have made waves in and
around their hometown of East LA. Featuring los hermanos Pacheco and one of several lively session bassists, these
romp ‘n’ rollers have managed not only to marry two unlikely genres -- world’s apart -- in perfect pastiche harmony
but have also compiled a prolific catalogue of music to which they toured through the United States in an extensive
32 days, 35 shows tour in the Summer of 2016. Named #15 on LA Weekly’s “LA’s 20 Best Live Shows of 2016”
outranking the likes of ELO, Bruce Springsteen and The Who, Thee Commons have created a buzz with their
vivacious performances. Chris Ziegler founder of LA Record wrote about Thee Commons, “Live, they’re fearless,
confident and ready to go off-script at a moment’s inspiration. It’s wild stuff, just as it absolutely should be.” To
which Chris Kissel of LA Weekly further comments, “If Thee Commons aren’t the best live band in Los Angeles,
they’re damn near the top.”
Altogether, Thee Commons have played well over a hundred shows, gaining in the process hundreds more
in fans -- those eager for something new to call their own. They have performed at several of Southern California’s
prestigious venues and festivals, including Echo Park Rising, Desert Daze, Viva Pomona, The Echoplex of Echo
Park, The Regent Theatre of Downtown Los Angeles, the Glasshouse of Pomona, the Roxy of West Hollywood and
the Observatory of Santa Ana; have been hosted for a residency by pocho wine bar Eastside Luv of Boyle Heights --
which consisted of a weekly burlesque-dancer-entangled-affair dubbed the “Cumbia Psicodelica Cabaret”; and have
opened up for such acts as Chicano Batman, Bomba Estereo, Thee Midniters and even unofficially -- by way of an
impromptu guerilla-style street show -- for The Pixies.
Discographically, Thee Commons’ “DIT” (do it together) hard work ethic has yielded them a debut 7inch
vinyl EP paradoxically titled Sunburn at Midnight -- self-released spring 2013 -- and a fragmented compilation
entitled Rock is Dead: Long Live Paper and Scissors, which is to say an 8-volume limited edition EP series, the
volumes of which they released successively throughout 2014. As of 2015, however, Rock is Dead is available, as a
full-feature 20-song CD, and as a specialty, limited edition cassette and 10-inch -- 10-song -- vinyl originally co-
released by the independent O.C. label Burger Records. 2016 brought about their sophomore album “Loteria Tribal”
co-released with Burger Records on CD, Cassette and limited edition Flexi Vinyl. The same year also brought about
two new 7-inch vinyl’s that include their refreshing cover of Los Saico’s “Demolicion,” on Denver, Colorado’s
Heavy Dose Records, and a single of “La Fiesta” an obscure swinging Mexican cover b/w a grungy cover of
Selena’s “La Carcancha” on Steady Beat Records out of San Pedro, CA..
Looking forward, 2017 Thee Commons plan to release the ambitious 18 song junior follow up album
"Paleta Sonora” out later this year. Teamed up with Cosmica Artists Management group and Monterey Int. Booking
Agency, the future looks auspicious for these young and determined “chunsters” who doggedly strive to perfect their
hypnotic yet invigorating act -- which includes an intertextual take on Nirvana's “Love Buzz” and a punk cover of
Selena’s “Baila Esta Cumbia”-- and disseminate the perfect pastiche that is psychedelic cumbia punk.
Will Sprott is a song & dance man from California, currently living in Seattle. He released two albums & toured all over as the singer & guitar player of San Jose's oldie oddballs the Mumlers before releasing his first record under his own name, Vortex Numbers, in early 2015. Since then he has toured with Seattle's La Luz & San Francisco's Two Gallants. He also tours as a member of two of the finest bands in the land: Oakland's Shannon & the Clams (playing keyboards) & Shana Cleveland & the Sandcastles (playing bass). In August & September he'll once again hit the road with his band playing shows in every corner of the USA & a few spots in Canada too.