REVIEW: The Henry Clay People - "Somewhere On The Golden Coast"
Zach Hart Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The Henry Clay People - Somewhere On The Golden Coast
Release Date: June 8th, 2010
About seventeen minutes into the new album from The Henry Clay People, “Somewhere On The Golden Coast”, frontman Joey Siara exclaims: “This aint a scene, it’s just a generation caught in between.” After a few beautiful moments of a slide guitar he goes deeper: “This aint a scene, it’s just a place to be.” This is the perfect summary of the current musical climate and why an amazing band like The Henry Clay People will struggle to get “cred” from hip blogs like Pitchfork. You see, “hip blogs” get caught in this typhoon of sounds/genres that mark a specific time. Right now, the majority of us bloggers are focused on the low fi/chillwave/electro movement. That’s all good and fine, but there’s amazing music out there going unnoticed. After hearing the new release from The Henry Clay People, I’m convinced that not only is “Somewhere On The Golden Coast” the best straight forward rock and roll album of the year…it might be the most honest collection of tunes I’ve heard in a long time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love music in all categories, but when was the last true rock and roll indie album? Remember, it was all the rage in the 90’s with Pavement, Built To Spill, Yo La Tengo, the list goes on forever. Now it seems you need a costume, a bunch of effects, neon lights, and it helps if you wear skinny jeans. There is something refreshing to hear an album for the music and not have any exposure to outside elements that might poison the tunes (looking at you Mountain Dew).
“Somewhere On The Golden Coast” is one solid song after another, each overflowing with a unique personal touch from Siara’s thoughtful approach to his lyrics. Call me crazy but Sierra is a young Paul Westerberg/Stephen Malkmus hybrd. Siara’s younger brother Andy is in charge of lead guitar and absolutely stuns on this new record. With the amount of synth music I’ve been exposed to (and loved) over these last few years, I forgot how powerful the traditional is when executed properly. Two guitars, Joey’s ripping vocals, drums, bass, and piano…that’s it.
This is the section in the review where I single out a few songs and show some strengths and weaknesses….but this is one of those albums…that is actually a start to finish album. Do you remember those? Yeah, I know it’s been a while, but “Somewhere On The Golden Coast” allows you to drop the needle and play it out until the last guitar pick. The album does a nice job mixing the tempos and there is a lot of maturity shown on this album, especially when they show a more emotional side on the tracks “Two Lives At The End Of The Night” and “A Temporary Fix”. For the all out Henry Clay fans, don’t worry, in addition to their older songs “Working Part Time” and “This Ain’t A Scene”, “Slow Burn” and “End Of An Empire” are all out rock songs that will have you listening over and over with constant tapping of right or left or both feet.
What’s funny and sad is that a blog like Pitchfork will ignore The Henry Clay People because of their genre and the fact that a clear focus is put on Brooklyn and not Los Angeles (don’t blame them, but LA constantly gets a raw deal). Pitchfork, as I’m writing this, still has not posted one track, reviewed one song or album, and this is baffling. I imagine we will see a medium score review here in the next few days, but THCP deserve better. The Henry Clay People have been around for years now, played SXSW several years in a row, had three nation wide tours, signed to TBD (Yeah, Radiohead, White Rabbits…kind of a big deal world)…yet they go ignored by New York/Chicago based publications. Ask any music blogger in Los Angeles who is the hardest working band that puts on the best live show…99% of them will point you in the direction of the venue Spaceland to catch one of the many The Henry Clay People’s sets. As I’m typing, my words don’t seem to be matching my emotions, so I will leave you with this: This is a damn fine band with an amazing new release. It’s time for the world to realize that The Henry Clay People are one of the most important new bands in the last few years. The Henry Clay People play their hearts out, play the music they want to hear, and never once apologize for not being the type of music that is buzzy at this moment. I think I found the simplest words for my emotions now: If you like good music…you’ll like The Henry Clay People and “Somewhere On The Golden Coast.”