Quirky, catchy and creative
Since 2009, Shannon and the Clams have been making freaky pop ballads mixed with garage rock sounds. Their past four albums could be compared to other bands from the same San Francisco scene, like Nobunny or Hunx and his Punx. Throughout Onion, the band produces the same vintage sounds and songwriting from their earlier efforts, but with a polished and sleeker production by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
It doesn’t have to be hard to make a vintage-sounding album creative and adventurous, and Shannon and the Clams are a great example. Tracks like “The Boy” and “Backstreets” show off the band’s great melodic sense and songwriting chops. Even though some of the instrumentation on the album doesn’t provide enough variety, executing an old sound well makes up for it. The title track, “Onion,” is an example, which sounds like a mutated Kinks song from 1964. Shannon Shaw provides great vocals and a vintage singing timbre that offer a lot to the table.
Band members Nick Mayhem and Cody Blanchard have some great licks and technical skills, especially on tracks like “Lovestrike” and “The Boy,” the lead single to the album. Everyone in the group feels like they’re contributing greatly, and no one seems off their game. Some cuts seem like the production gets a little too sleek to get the full grit of the guitar and bass, which take away from the experience. Although it’s produced nicely by Auerbach, maybe a more lo-fi sound would’ve suited just fine.
Onion is a fun album. Although some tracks seem redundant and a little too undeveloped from the rest, the ’60s surf and garage rock sounds still come through. The fuzzy guitars and soulful vocals will provide a lot of nostalgia, and a reason to pull out those vintage rock records again.