SHANNON & THE CLAMS
* * 1/2
Shannon & the Clams and Hunx and his Punx share musical styles (trashy, comedic, ‘60s-inspired garage-pop) and bassists (Shannon Shaw, who also sings lead vocals with Shannon & the Clams) but are also very different in aesthetic. While Hunx and his Punx go for a sexy good-time vibe, Shannon & the Clams are more about love and loneliness but also pursue a trashy-kitschy aesthetic bordering on Zef. And perhaps most importantly, Hunx and his Punx are fun, while Shannon & the Clams are merely funny. While "The Cult Song" and "Done With You" are amusing, the grooves aren’t strong enough for any serious movement, and Shaw sounds half-asleep for most of the album. You can dance to this, but it’s more nostalgia-trip music for Spector geeks.
Illusions of Grandeur
Brandon McCartney is a 20-year-old Antony & the Johnsons fan who also happens to be a horrible rapper. For better or for worse, he’s also one of the essential elements of Rebirth culture right now, having made his name with side-splitting “hits” like “Look Like Jesus,” “Wonton Soup,” “Hipster Girls” and the unforgettable “Ellen DeGeneres” (sample lyric: “Put me on the couch/Interview my girlfriend/Swag swag swag swag swag brrrang-dang-dang your girlfriend.”) I’d give any one of those four stars just for being so unapologetically and hilariously outrageous. But like all such oddities, he works best when he’s making no effort to be serious, and Illusions of Grandeur is the opposite. His only asset here is his incredible taste in music, which spices up the beats here, but couldn’t he do better than moan lackadaisically over Kanye’s “Devil In A New Dress?” Sometimes we just want wonton soup, and this kung pao chicken doesn’t do it.