Shannon and the Clams – Dreams in the Rat House album review

The allure of the classic jangley 60s girl groups has become a major selling point for a few of modern indie bands, and for good reason. The simplicity and soul that is present in this genre allows for a fun, relaxing, and nostalgic listen. The most recent development in this scene comes from the up and coming throwback trio “Shannon and the Clams.” They recently came out with their debut full length entitled “Dreams in the Rat House.” If one were to “judge a book by the cover,” so to speak, he or she would hear the goofy band name, the mysterious album title, and see the astrophysical-80’s romance movie-ish album cover, and wonder just where exactly the band could go from there. Upon listening to even the first few seconds, there’s no mistake what type of band this is. Shannon and the Clams delivers the vocal stylings of late 50’s/early 60’s female crooners, with a few surf and punk elements mixed in here and there.

Plenty of the songs could’ve fit perfectly in the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack. The opener “Hey Willy” could be straight off of an album produced by Phil Spector with its happy-go-lucky swagger and innocent lyrics. What stands out most about this track, as well as most others, is the vocal stylings that perfectly fit the style that the band commits to. The vocals are absolutely spotless and are powerful enough to have made Shannon a star in any decade. The tracks have a very focused and calculated production that give the songs that classic low-fi vibe that still feels like it was recorded with modern recording technology. In my opinion, the album’s high point is the track “If I Could Count.” It is 3 minutes and 58 seconds of 60’s pop mastery. Every singe second of this song is a hook that is worth singing along to and sticks in your head like superglue.

Even though the tracks are all seemingly 60’s throwbacks, there are clearly musical influences from other decades that occasionally seep to the surface throughout the album. The track “Bed Rock” feels like it has some a Pixies feel to it. The track “Rat House” among others feels like it has somewhat of a punk influence, and tracks such as “Runaway” feel like it has a garage music influence. Pretty much all of the music in this release is a somewhat obvious derivative of a certain genre or style, but the band doesn’t come off as a cheesy ripoff or completely uncreative spinoff band. They are clearly lovers of all things music, and the focus and talent of the band makes “Dreams in the Rat House” worth checking out. I recommend getting it on vinyl for the nostalgic and romantic element.

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