Shannon and the Clams

Pub date May 12, 2009
WriterAndre Torrez
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Enough about Thee Oh Sees already. Let’s talk about Shannon and the Clams. John Dwyer’s new outfit is great and all, but Shannon is bodacious. She’s a peroxide-haired, punk-rock pin-up who gets real mean on her Danelectro bass.

I caught the classic beauty out and about last week with an unmasked Nobunny. They were catching a glimpse of those pretty Black Lips performing at the Great American Music Hall. A few months earlier, I saw Shannon and her Clams doin’ their thing for the hometown crowd at Oakland’s Stork Club. For sure, the highlight of the night was their rendition of Del Shannon’s "Runaway." I can’t get enough of that song. Anytime I hear it, it’s embedded in my brain for days. I enjoyed the guitarist’s mimicry of whatever high-pitched instrument is used in the bridge of the original recording. Surf rock interpretation at its finest.

Shannon’s gnarly, gruff-sounding wail conveys the angst of an exhausted teenage wreck (see "Cry Aye Aye"). She’s somewhere between a woman possessed by Little Richard and the vocal huskiness of the Gossip’s Beth Ditto. Another standout track, "Blast Me To Bermuda," is pure teen-punk energy, with a slicing riff that propels the Clams’ late-1950s, early-’60s style into a more contemporary garage rock sound.

Shannon is worthy in my book. Good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll!

SHANNON AND THE CLAMS With Thee Oh Sees, Sonny and Sunsets, and the Mystery Lights. Fri/15, 9 p.m., $8. Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-0012.