Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Henry Clay People Land In A Desert

The Henry Clay PeopleThe Henry Clay People have played hundreds of free-spirited shows since they first formed in 2005. Once, in 2008, they received a dubious distinction as the most intoxicated band at SXSW. And it hasn't been the only live show made infamous.

Sometimes it's kind of shocking. The band was originally founded by two brothers who grew tired of typical college antics only to make some of their own on stage. But even more uncharacteristic of the chaos, one of them is a pessimist and perfectionist.

So when indie reviewers didn't get behind their last album or the label asked them to make some compromises or frontman Joey Siara thinks about his progressing hearing damage, all of it sounds sort of on the brink of catastrophic. You can even make yourself dizzy thinking about where they might end up.

Here's the run down. The Henry Clay People have paid their dues. Their low point was sharing their last loaf of bread in a park for dinner. Their high point was signing with a new label and opening for the Drive-By Truckers. And despite the steady climb, some people still peg them as competent but not distinguished. Is it any wonder their new EP has its own sense of aridness?

The Henry Clay People Find This Is A Desert.

Without doubt, the new EP is more mature than previous releases. And like many EPs that spiral out of the studio immediately after a tour, This Is A Desert likely marks a transition. Or, you never know, it might simply be another way for the band to cover those incidentals.

It's hard to say. Part of listening to the EP picks up on the uncertainty that comes with being signed just as much as being newly discovered. Meanwhile, TDB Records describes the rushed outing a collection of the familiar and exploration of the new. It's some of their best work, except It Isn't The Waiting. Pass on that one.

The Winter Song is better than that, even if it really doesn't showcase the three songs that really make the EP worthwhile. It's best described as some sort of epic rock lament or bizarre slacker ballad more indicative of an aging band than an up and comer. And since the band was caught short without a video for the work, they placed the single over a studio fight between the two brothers.

The best parts of the EP include California Wildfire, which is the best track as indie rock (light). It's also the only full 4-plus minute song worth the download if you grab only one. It opens with buzzing guitars before breaking into steady vocals underscored by piano with just enough noise to keep it from being cleanly mainstream.

The next two picks are bittersweet in that they are solid songs but you might feel cheated because both end in under two minutes. The pop punkish The Honey Love He Sells may get plenty of play to make up for its shortness. And while This Is A Desert misses with the opening band chant, it recovers with the vocals and groovy guitar noise.

This Is A Desert By The Henry Clay People Rips 4.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

It's a playable EP that serves as an introduction (or reintroduction) of the band's potential beyond the pub rock they sometimes produced with Autumn Tone Records. Expect better things ahead from Joey (vocals, guitar), Andy (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Price (bass, vocals), and Eric Scott (drums).

You can find This Is A Desert by The Henry Clay People on iTunes. This Is A Desert EP is also at Amazon. Go ahead and browse Somewhere On The Golden Coast too. Nobody Taught Us To Quit is the one to zero in on. It might only be a minute, but it's a great minute.
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