The Henry Clay People, Somewhere on the Golden Coast

The Henry Clay People, Somewhere on the Golden Coast

The Henry Clay People sound a lot like Pavement and the Hold Steady, two bands that are always good reference points. They may have an annoying name, but their music is a lot of fun. Their fourth record, Somewhere on the Golden Coast is solid all the way through, with lots of exuberant melodies and thoughtful arrangements. It doesn’t completely transcend its influences, but the melodies are still exciting.

The songs all have great melodies, and the band is tight and capable. “Nobody Taught Us To Quit” sounds like a lost Hold Steady song, and on top of that, it sounds like a full song despite only being a minute long. They’re good at those long Craig Finn-esque intro rants, like on “Working Part Time,” and busy lead guitar lines and big, rocking rhythm guitar chords. “Keep Your Eyes Closed” sounds a lot like “Cut Your Hair,” down to the ironic semi-cheesy harmonies on the chorus. What does it mean when you do an ironic swipe of a song that is already an ironic swipe? The song does have an undeniable epic anthemic quality to it that’s worthy of Pavement.

But it all sounds too much like their influences — they don’t really add their own flavor to the songs. “Working Part Time” sounds a lot like “Hornets! Hornets!,”and like I said, “Keep Your Eyes Closed” sounds exactly like “Cut Your Hair.” Lyrically, they aren’t up to the level of their influences — most of their songs aren’t nearly as clever. And considering that both the Hold Steady and Pavement are known for their lyrics, the comparison doesn’t help The Henry Clay People.

That said, Somewhere on the Golden Coast is solid, catchy, and interesting. It’s an excellent record. Whether you’ll like it or not depends on whether you enjoy music that’s derivative; whether you like a band to have its own distinct sound. The songs here are all excellent, and the band’s parts are all tasteful and interesting. They might yet grow into their own thing — they definitely have the songwriting down. Maybe they’ll find their own sound.

(TBD Records -- 9200 W. Sunset Blvd. #1207, West Hollywood, CA. 90069; http://www.tbdrecords.com/; The Henry Clay People -- http://henryclaypeople.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Sunday, January 2nd, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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