Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Henry Clay People

  • Somewhere on the Golden Coast [TBD, 2010] B+
  • Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives [ATO, 2012] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Somewhere on the Golden Coast [TBD, 2010]
Although their new EP sounds suspiciously like a reject pile, this talky 2010 tunefest showcases a six-years-running LA g-g-b-d who like Neil Young, Tom Petty, and especially the Replacements, the latter of whom they resemble but fall well short of matching, as goes without saying for the first two. Says chief songwriter Andy Siara: "The situations I find myself are situations that a whole crapload of 20-somethings who don't know what they're doing are in as well." Their gift is transforming these situations into songs that don't have quite the juice to inspire a movement, including songs with titles like "Working Parttime" and "End of an Empire." They named themselves after The Great Compromiser because they wanted something historical-political, adjudged the Forgotten Presidency of Chester A. Arthur too long for a marquee, and settled--too soon, as compromisers will. I think of them as the Displacements myself. B+

Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives [ATO, 2012]
Soundbites--well, wordbites--song by song. "We don't know how to die." "I'm making sense of all the senseless/I'm getting wrecked with all the reckless." "We found some jobs and paid off our loans/Then we lost our jobs and let your parents know/That you'll be movin' home." "Every band we ever loved/Is selling out or breaking up/Finding out the limits of their reach." "Give it up and come on out/That stupid dream is over." "You are the property of privilege/Now you are learning how to live with it." "You wanna taste a taste of the tasteless/We can waste away with the wasted." "And I can move to the country/But that won't solve anything." "One mistake too many fights three nights/You pay for the rest of your life." "Friends are forgetting/We're getting too tired to try/Keeping up with each other/So we leave them behind." "Not that it ever made a difference/Back when we were innocent/Oh-oh-oh." Pretty impressive. Problem? More than half the songs sound effectively the same. Rocking, absolutely. Tighter, too. Tuneful, in their way. But imagine the Replacements without Westerberg's hookfinder and you'll understand the limits of their reach. B+