Review Summary: One of 2010's most seasoned and eager records, Somewhere On The Golden Coast shows a band growing up without ever growing old.
Ah, the splendor of youth: living carelessly and without responsibility from day to day with no worries of tomorrow. The reckless juvenility of one's teenage years is almost always something to reflect upon with a wistful smile. Indeed, people seem to dream quite frequently of such days, as if there is some sentimental gratification to be found in these youthful memories. Such yearnings and reminiscences have influenced generations of songwriters, from records as nostalgic and heartfelt as Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town
to slightly more contemporary efforts from bands such as Japandroids
and Titus Andronicus
, who have made a name for themselves through songs that cling desperately to such immature days.
Although not exactly newcomers to the indie-rock scene, L.A.-based group The Henry Clay People
have yet to make their name known on any sort of a country-wide scale. Their 2010 release of Somewhere On The Golden Coast
marked the band's third full length album. On top of three records, they've toured the United States rather extensively and performed at such festivals as Lollapalooza and Sasquatch, and are scheduled to play this year's Coachella Festival. Despite all of this, they still remain one of indie-rock's best kept secrets.
In their second LP, 2008's For Cheap Or For Free
, frontman Joey Siara's songwriting was focused mainly around both the music scene and the impulsive, youthful lifestyle with which the band's members always seemed to live. The latter remains a central theme in many of SotGC
's songs, although the style and lyrics are in no way stale or repetitive. This general motif is very prevalent in the record's first two songs, "Nobody Taught Us To Quit", a quick, lo-fi track that leads beautifully into "Working Part Time". As the lightly distorted guitar and vocals of the first track wear out, an impeccably placed drum kick marks the start of the second. "Working Part Time" is quite likely the album's premier track, with ridiculously fun guitar licks accompanied by an incessantly thrashing drumbeat, along with singalong opportunities and such nostalgic hooks as "we got drunk and called in sick whenever we felt like it.
" It's a song with the potential to serve as a generation-wide anthem of just trying to make ends meet, backed by an inebriated enthusiasm that refuses to go to sleep and insists on pouring another shot instead. This same sort of cockeyed gusto litters SotGC
from start to finish, most noteworthy in such tracks as "This Ain't A Scene" and "End Of An Empire", a song which features three minutes of timeless, 70's rock-inspired guitar licks and relentlessly fun drums. "Well I've got nothing but free time to kill, so I will!
" shrieks Siara, who's vocals constantly compete with the uproarious clamor of the music, whose melodies ring of Americana influences such as Bruce Springsteen or an early Lynyrd Skynyrd. The combination creates an end result that's as fun as it is unique and provides for a fantastic listen.
In contrast to these upbeat, high-energy songs, The Henry Clay People
also manage to achieve moments of a slower, more musically conscious atmosphere. "A Temporary Fix" demonstrates the band's ability to produce a more sedated tune, with haunting, distant-sounding harmonies and melancholy yet hopeful lyrics. The intro to "Saturday Night" showcases a clash of post-rock/post-punk with its shrieking guitars and well-orchestrated feedback before diving into its robust, impassioned chorus. The promise and splendor of youthful days hangs on every one of Joey Siara's lyrics yet still perpetuates a slightly more mature and reminiscent quality. Once again, THCP
are able to provide something worth singing and dancing along to without being too traditional or hackneyed.
All things considered, Somewhere On The Golden Coast
should stand as one of 2010's most-lauded indie records, though it seems to have fallen short in garnering enough attention to do so. For almost forty minutes, The Henry Clay People
manage to maintain a distinct sound without ever sounding too repetitive. The sustained nostalgia and unabated jam-session feel of SotGC
serve as the backbone for what should certainly be regarded as the band's finest album to date and one well-worth checking out.