It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Shannon & the Clams was formed by accident. Just outside the invisible borders of Oakland’s warehouse music scene, Shannon Shaw was absorbed in studying illustration at California College of the Arts, a 100-year-old institution that draws freaks into the city from across the country. For many, the school serves as a gateway into the sprawling music underground that agitates beneath the Bay Area, as a hub for fliers for illegal parties in backyards, basements, and overpasses.
During a bout of depression, Shannon took up a neglected bass guitar that had been a gift from an ex-boyfriend years earlier and played it for the first time, writing in a raw and untrained way. The urge to perform these songs soon took her to open mic nights around the East Bay, eventually recruiting a band, and Shannon & The Clams was born.
Over the last decade, Shannon and her chief collaborator, guitarist Cody Blanchard, have released six albums of Bay Area vintage garage-rock. Shannon & The Clams current incarnation includes Nate Mahan on drums and Will Sprott on keyboards, and their live show has developed a zealous following that craves their particular authenticity and innovation on classic sounds.
Their most recent album, Year of the Spider, was released in the late summer of 2021 on Dan Auerbach’s (The Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound. The record rages against death and disease with the power of a thousand angry Ronettes. Songs like “All Of My Cryin’,” “Mary, Don’t Go,” and “Year Of The Spider,” pulse with girl-group elegance and punk ferocity. On a Clams record, you always get both.