Reviewed by Eugenia Vela.
You know, I think sometimes it’s in the shadiest bars with peeling wallpaper, so seedy and dark a place that you encounter something truly worth finding. In that mess of sweat and heavy smell of beer is where I can imagine Los Angeles-based The Henry Clay People playing a perfect set.
The most difficult thing about music is finding that place, that little bridge between a loose mass of disorganization and intricate clarity. And this is it—the band’s album, Somewhere on the Golden Coast (TBD, June 8) presents 11 tracks that give off that chaotic yet well-put-together aspect we love of rock ‘n’ roll. Even in its track titles, everything from “Working Part Time” to “Saturday Night” where you imagine boys that are just having fun, making music that somehow ends up being… good. The Henry Clay People have become a mix of hazy indie with punk and a background of rock that ranges everywhere from The Replacements to a few riffs that are very Chuck Berry. It’s a puzzler—and it works.
In the arrangement of songs, it seems sometimes as if you’re more watching the band play a live show than listening to them through your speakers, and that was clearly their intention all along. The collection is very raw, but I don’t mean raw in the “unworked, unfinished, with lack of experience” kinda way—it’s open, and urban, and street, fitting for the lives of Easton Ellis characters—minus the trust fund.
Even though I don’t consider the collection perfect—I do have some songs I skip past, such as “Famous Friends”—it’s a great mix that transcends different generations and decades of music we love. It goes through ’70s rock and punk a la Dead Kennedys but with a more accessible and recent sound that lets you both enjoy the music and appreciate the band’s talent for telling simple stories of everyday things in a musky, smoky, drunken way. You’ll find yourself thrown into a vivid scene in each of their songs, and I can’t wait to witness it live at ACL.
Red River rating: 7.5 out of 10