Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Rock and Roll Has Lost Its Teeth” by The Henry Clay People from the 2008 album For Cheap or For Free on Autumn Tone Records.
When people look back on rise of indie music and how the genre rose from it roots, blogs will be considered as the source of much of that growth. Aquarium Drunkard is one of those special places on the world wide web where the curious and loyal music explorers can consistently find melodies and refrains that set their hearts free with joy. Along with championing artists that he believes via his website, Justin Gage has gone a step further and launched his own independent label, Autumn Tone Records. Justin and lead singer Joey Siara met down in Austin during SXSW a few years ago and decided to work together on For Cheap or For Free, released last week, after discovering a mutual affection for music and the HBO series, The Wire.
The Henry Clay People’s story actually began with Joey (vocals and guitar) and his brother Andy Siara (also on vocals and guitar) who got together with Eric Scott (drums) whom they met during junior high Phys Ed class. Completing the group is Noah Green (vocals and bass), who met Andy while they were both studying in college. The bands’ first release, Birdman and the Squid, caught the attention of none other than Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You Black Emperor) and Colin Stewart (Frog Eyes, Destroyer), who helped produce the boys’ next studio release, Blacklist The Kid With The Red Moustache. This album brought the band massive amounts of critical acclaim and hometown adoration and was later mixed by Harris Newman (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown) with the band funding the entire project themselves, despite all of their friends’ help. Through it all, Joey, Andy, Eric, and Noah have remained true to their humble beginnings and focused on what is most important: family and friends. It is from their inspiration that the band maintains their heart and soul and lays out for their listeners a landscape of heartbreak, discovery, dust, and gloom... but also a bit of hope and sunshine. In the end, what you’d expect to churn out of the hills of the Appalachia or the valleys of the Midwest comes straight from the streets of Los Angeles. Go ahead, indulge a bit. we promise you’ll feel right at home after only one listen.
Having just completed their fall, The Henry Clay People have only a couple shows to play in southern California, but check back on their MySpace page for tour updates. Live, the band always pulls out some interesting covers, like this version of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” from the Echo in Los Angeles: