The record starts up – a classic rockabilly surf guitar drifts into hearing, before your ears are sonically attacked by the 50s sci-fi whirl, like an old stylophone. Then in comes the gorgeous darkly feminine croon, like one of the classic girls of the 60s on shimmering stages, sounding every bit like the jasmine she sings about. For those unfamiliar with the band, Shannon and the Clams are known for masterfully blending 50s doo-wop, surf, garage and 60s girl band. Gone by the Dawn continues this in fine condition from start to finish, awash with swirling vocals and surf rhythm, sure to entice and enthral even the most casual of listeners.
‘I Miss the Jasmine’ may set the mood of the album, but that’s not to say that it reflects every track. Throughout Gold by the Dawn, Shannon and the Clams weave complex sonic-scape from so many reference points it’s hard to really place the album into one genre in particular. On ‘Point of Being Right’ Shannon sings like Mary Weiss of the Shangri-las accompanying a garage psych version of the classic T Rex stomp. The vocals and lyrics follow in this trend of melodramatic melancholy, like the classic French singers of the 60s, but with the growl of the queen of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. There’s even hints of new wave bands like XTC or Gang of Four. Yet musically, all this melts into into a dream of thrilling guitars and distance echoes, bizarre yet not nonsensical and entirely unique. The haunting sounds of ‘How Long?’ has a certain sort of timelessness about it, only to be contrasted by tracks such as ‘Knock ‘em Dead’ or ‘Covette’. The former is a crazy punk freak out, assaulting the listener with with a furious energy and wave of sonic noise that should sound out of play on the album but somehow seems perfectly positioned. It’s something that Shannon and the Clams seem to be able to do effortlessly. You have to wonder why nobody has tried it before.
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Four albums into a career as a band, as well as other side successful projects, it comes as no surprise that Gone by Dawn is a shining example of all there is to love about Shannon and the Clams. It’s easy to see that Gone By Dawn is easy to praise, yet it’s very possible that it might not ever reach the ears of the wider public – which is a shame, because the music is so perfectly crafted and enjoyable that it’s unlikely anyone who gives the record a listen would dislike it. But sadly it can be hard to sell such a genre defying record to the masses. For fans however, it is a dream of an album, highly inventive, demonstrating a band that just keeps getting better.
‘Gone by the Dawn’ is out on the 11th September 2015, via Hardly Art