Shannon and the Clams announced that they’ll be releasing their new album, Year of the Spider, on August 20, 2021 via Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound. They had finished recording the album with Auerbach in March 2020, but decided to shelve it until the COVID-19 pandemic eased up. It will be the band’s sixth album, following 2018’s Onion.
With the new release date in site, Shannon and the Clams decided to release the lead single, “Midnight Wine” today, May 12. On it, frontwoman Shannon Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard tell the haunting tale of someone preparing to die while drinking too much of a poisonous drug. They sing in harmony, beginning with “Under cover of black night/I found a way to end my life/Crouched among the dying pines/Sucking on this midnight wine.” As typical for the group, it blends blues themes with psychedelia and crunchy rock guitar tones.
An animated music video for the track plays up the sinister storyline by morphing outlines of Shaw and Blanchard’s faces into various horrifying creatures like vampires, cyclopes and jack o’ lanterns. The rest of the band is included through illustrations of fingers playing the recording’s organs and drums that move through the frame in the video’s hypnotic motion. Blanchard directed and animated the video. He also wrote the lyrics for the song.
Blanchard and Shaw talked with Rolling Stone about the album, explaining how they felt about its delay. “I remember texting with Dan about the record shortly after [the pandemic shut the music industry down] and saying, ‘I have no idea when we could possibly release this. I think I just need to take a break from it and kind of forget we even recorded it so I stop being upset that we have to sit on it.’ The whole band is always very eager to get a record out once it’s done. It’s crushing to have to wait over a year to release it.”
Shaw commented on how the album came together through a chaotic period of her life, with the pandemic, her dad getting cancer, a near-miss from a tornado in Nashville, and a Peeping Tom at her apartment complex in Oakland causing her to move. “Many essential nuggets of my songs were written during some of the most stressful moments of my life, like driving my dad to radiation with wildfires looming in the distance,” She explains. “On top of that, I had a Peeping Tom who haunted my roommates and me from November to July and that was the nail in the coffin for ending my time in Oakland.”
On the other hand, Blanchard was able to stay at his home in Portland throughout the process. However, he found inspiration for the material he was writing from outside his own life. He says, “I got really into this idea of writing other people’s stories as songs. For some reason, it was so much easier for me to write this way. I was able to work really fast and get out of my own head and my own experience.”
“Midnight Wine,” is a clear example of this. He talked about what inspired it, “I was thinking of friends I’ve had that have died from drug addiction and that feeling of desperation that drives you to seek shelter from reality in drugs. The song is me trying to get as deep into that feeling as I can. I didn’t want to be too plain or on-the-nose and write about heroin or booze, so I invented a fictional slang for a fictional drug: ‘Midnight Wine.’ Some kind of poisonous potion that relieves your grief. The song is a fictionalized account of a victim of this fictional drug, based on very real people.”
Although many of the songs have similarly dark lyrics and there have been many chaotic events happening in the world around the band, they said that the recording process was super smooth. They recorded the album at Auerbach’s Easy Eye recording studio in Nashville, and the band had plenty of good things to say about Auerbach and the support of his old session musicians, who are all in their mid-seventies.
Year of The Spider Tracklist:
1. Do I Wanna Stay
2. All of My Cryin’
3. Midnight Wine
4. I Need You Bad
5. Year of the Spider
6. In the Hills, in the Pines
8. Snakes Crawl
9. Mary, Don’t Go
10. Leaves Fall Again
11. Flowers Will Return
Photo credit: Marisa Rose Ficara