Personnel: Cody Blanchard (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion); Shannon Shaw (vocals); Nate Mayhem (keyboards, drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: James Riotto.
Recording information: Tiny Telephone Studios SF, CA (01/2015).
Photographer: Ringo Rock Yay.
Shannon & the Clams really put it all together on their 2013 album Dreams in the Rat House. Tighter and tougher than before with hookier songs and both bassist Shannon Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard nailing their vocals, the album was a near-brilliant '50s/'60s throwback. Just to show that it wasn't a fluke, their 2015 album Gone by the Dawn is even better. With simple, near genius production from Sonny Smith, a batch of songs that cut deeper and have longer-lasting effects, and even more impressive performances from the whole group (which includes new drummer Nate Mayhem), the record is just about the best garage/rockabilly/girl group/doo wop/early rock & roll hybrid around in 2015. With a nice balance between loping midtempo love songs that often feature nicely rendered Joe Meek-style keyboards, tear-stained ballads, and hard-charging rockers, the record has a nice oldies jukebox feel. The jumped-up rockers might be the songs that get the most notice the first time through, with "Telling Myself" and "Point of Being Right" sounding like covers of hits from back in the day. "Knock 'Em Dead" provides a punky blast of energy, and a bunch of other tracks slash and shimmy like the best rock & roll. It's great and fun, but when they cut the tempo down to super slow, dial in some late-night soul, and break open their soggy diaries, that's when the heart of the album is revealed. Both Shaw and Blanchard prove very adept at the kind of heartbroken torch songs that inspire tattoos and benders, the kind that feel inspired by crushing defeats and love gone very wrong. Shaw's vocals are impressively strong on these tracks; on "How Long?" the control and depth she exhibits is almost breathtaking. There are only a few of these ballads mixed in, but they are showstoppers that help give the album an extra boost. Shannon & the Clams have hit the peak of their powers here, making good on their promising early records and improving on the already strong record that came before. Here's hoping they can keep it up for many more great rock & roll albums to come. ~ Tim Sendra