The Henry Clay People “Somewhere on the Golden Coast”

TBD Records 2010

There are a lot of bands around right now diving head first into the carefree, fist-pumping pool of classic rock, usually while dressed in T-shirts of their favorite punk bands. But while most would simply tread water after such an endeavor, The Henry Clay People thrash around stubbornly, like ducks fighting over soggy bread crumbs.

If it’s difficult to discern whether this is an insult or a compliment, maybe that’s because I’m not sure either. The quick one-two punch of “Nobody Taught Us to Quit” and “Working Part Time” that kicks off the band’s new album, Somewhere on the Golden Coast, perfectly showcases their strengths—the ability to write simple hooks that evoke the spirit of Springsteen and The Replacements, and effectively combine them with the ‘tude-laden talk-singing of front man Joey Siara.

My reservations about THCP stem from the over-abundance of bands that seem to be doing what they are doing—rather, the soon-to-be-over-abundance of them. Quite simply, I hear a lot of Hold Steady in these guys—maybe it’s all that Springsteen anthem stuff—and with how much more popular Hold Steady is getting, I can only imagine more bands trying to imitate them in the future.

With that said, I don’t believe THCP are straight out imitating The Hold Steady, or even Springsteen. Golden Coast is the band’s third album, and they have honed their craft enough to designate themselves from a band simply in it to make music patterned after something else. However, they certainly know their influences, and aren’t ashamed of them—songs like “Saturday Night”, “Your Famous Friends”, and standout “This Ain’t A Scene” emit a pretty raunchy bar-blues vibe, but never lose their delightfully snotty punk sensibilities. Sometimes, THCP almost sound like a modern day Mott the Hoople, as Siara’s delivery often resembles that of Ian Hunter’s.

Overall, all nit-picky criticism aside, it’s pretty refreshing to hear rock music of this caliber circulating the waves (which basically means the web) in some fashion. The Henry Clay People have hooks, chops, obvious knowledge of good music, and a certain charm about them. I saw them live at Replay here in Lawrence awhile ago, and though Siara’s strange rock talk alienated the crowd somewhat, they won everyone over with their exuberance, their raw talent…and their punctuality. ***1/2

“This Ain’t A Scene” live at the Echoplex…

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