If You Like The Shangri-Las,
Then You’ll Like Shannon and the Clams
Despite the giant gap their inception dates, 1960s girl pop group The Shangri-Las and Oakland’s Shannon and the Clams have a lot of sonic similarities. (Shannon and the Clams’ music might be a little more psych- and garage-rock influenced than The Shangri-Las, but that’s only because neither of those subgenres existed half a century ago.)
The bands, both quintets fronted by female singers, pull equal inspiration from the upbeat, bubbly style of early 1950s rock ’n’ roll and the swinging, melodic sounds of doo-wop. Using simple beats and sparse instrumentation, they each make peppy, if not histrionic ditties that revolve around love, heartbreak, and adolescent woes. Harmonies are also rife throughout both bands’ music, and in the case of Shannon and the Clams, which consists of both males and females, you’ll hear similarities to Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly as well.
And if you’re wondering why a current band is being compared to a a group that disbanded in 1968, the answer is in the music. There’s simply no other bands out there, at least in the Bay Area, making authentic, retro pop in the same vein as Shannon and the Clams.
Classically Trained — The Band Ice Cream
You’ve got to be deaf not to notice the differences between The Band Ice Cream’s 2015 EP We’re Set and their album, Classically Trained, which was released Friday, March 10. The latter contains three songs from the former (“Surfer Girl,” “Mexico,” and “Wild”) that have been scrubbed, polished, and reworked into sleeker versions that lean more toward surf-rock than grungy guitar rock. Whereas the EP sounded like it was being transmitted through a phonograph locked in a vault in an underground room, Classically Trained is crisper and clearer, thanks to the efforts of former Beach Boys and Rolling Stones producer Bruce Botnick.
It’s now easier to hear the similarities between singer Joe Sample’s yowling voice and that of Black Lips frontman Cole Alexander, and there’s more levity to the album, as well. “Jerk It Off” is a rollicking, chord- and cymbal-heavy ditty about missing a girl, and “Sand Dunes” is a quivering, raucous number about an illicit nighttime rendezvous at the beach.
It’s unclear whether The Band Ice Cream’s shiny new sound is due to Botnick’s interference or to growth within the band in the last two years, but one thing’s for sure: These dudes have definitely found their voice.
SF Weekly Song of the Week:
“One More Time,” Los Rakas
“A shadowy, fast-paced dance number with exotic, island vibes.”