Self-described as a "hardcore band" by lead singer Brendan Yates, one might have a hard time believing Turnstile resembles anything remotely close to that if only the opening 19 seconds on their third full-length are heard. That said, Glow On would also be easy to pigeonhole if glanced over. But as the following 15 tracks swiftly unfold on this 35-minute adventure, Yates' assertion oscillates between dubiousness and indisputability, and descriptions ranging from Incubus to new wave become applicable. Still, the Fugazi-ness undoubedtly lingers. That said, fuck the labels, this rocks. And so much more.
Shannon and The Clams' latest album, Year of the Spider, is not named in honor of the arachnid-rich campgrounds of High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago in eastern Wisconsin. Because that would be every year.
Instead, Shannon Shaw said the title of the group's sixth LP came from reevaluating a lifelong fear of the silk producers during a period of time when her world was crashing down. In a post on the band's website, Shaw said, "I am terrified of spiders, but my mom always told me that they're drawn to me." The singer/bassist visited an astrologer and was told "to summon Durga when she felt powerless, a Hindu goddess who holds a weapon in each of her eight arms... The symbolism of the spider made a full turn in an interesting way. I was getting protection from the thing I feared the most." It also led to the quartet's most serious effort yet.
While it's difficult to find any reference to Shannon & The Clams without the word "garage" being used to describe their music, Year of the Spider is decidedly un-carport by the band's standards. If the production feels similar to the recently featured Introducing... by Aaron Frazer, the not-so-secret connection is Dan Auerbach, producer and occasional hired gun on both. On Year of the Spider, the Clams' edges have been smoothed, the raw energy toned down. Fortunately, the overall "what decade is this?" sound of R&B, doo-wop, and early rock & roll remains, punctuated by Shaw's voice, explosive as ever.
"Spiders destroy the bullshit bugs," Shaw came to appreciate. "Like mosquitoes. Who needs 'em?" As someone born where that omnipresent, obnoxious little fly is the unofficial state bird, I wholeheartedly agree. Safe to say, Year of the Skeeter is unlikely to be LP number seven, but coming from Shannon & The Clams, it would be a beautiful buzz.