Beginning with the snarky “Nobody Taught us to Quit”, The Henry Clay People establish their rock and roll survivalist spirit that flows through their latest full-length.
HCP have always worn their influences on their sleeve, never hiding from comparisons to Pavement and The Replacements. This remains true on Somewhere on the Golden Coast, but these influences are now steeped in classic rock musicality and less in indie rock aesthetic.
“Keep Your Eyes Closed” has the crunch of an early Cheap Trick track, with the background “ooohs” that could have gotten it on early AM radio. “End of an Empire” and “Your Famous Friends” have the swagger of Little Richard (thanks to the addition of Jordan Hudock on keyboard) with a modern punk energy, and “This Ain’T a Scene” carries echoes of Tom Petty (who can be heard all over the album).
The musicality of the band has matured ten fold, with excellent lead guitar riffs that J. Mascis would admire (and he’d probably be jealous he didn’t write the slow, beautiful “A Temporary Fix”). The drums are consistently driving, and the Siara brothers help make up for a more limited vocal range than their classic rock heroes through sing along harmonies and an “every man” charisma.
The lyrical highlight of the album is “The Digital Kid”: “The digital kid has been erased…but before he disappeared he said I am the future that you fear”. The song captures the insecurity of facing an ever-progressing future with a melancholy humor that guarantees “If we can disappear, we’ll be fine”.
It would be great if all of the songs could reach this level of universality. Lead singer Joey Siara, often joined by brother Andy Siara, are fixated on the struggles of our generation to fit in (“This ain’t a scene, it’s just a generation caught in between”), both in society and in today’s rock and roll scene, and it feels like a theme they’ve already mastered (see classic track “Andy Sings!”). They’ve carved out a respectable niche, and now it’s time to branch out.
When their lyrics catch up to the musical maturity, the Henry Clay People will become the indie rock heroes for the next generation of upstart bands.