On December 8th, 2012 diverse indie rockers The Cla-Zels will release their third studio album, Flower of the Gold Rush. The band’s second release of 2012 (following up on the critically acclaimed roots rocker In a Canyon), Flower is a full-tilt rock album replete with the instrumental jamming and two-part harmony vocals found in The Cla-Zels’ live performances.
Joanie Whittaker (rhythm guitar, vocals), who with Jason Erickson (lead guitar, vocals) comprises the two-headed songwriting monster that fronts The Cla-Zels, explains: “As opposed to our first records I Own Hawaii and Canyon, where we recorded the tracks first and then learned the songs as a band, Flower of the Gold Rush started with material we had been playing onstage for a year.” The result is a rock band in your living room–an album with a truly live feel.
To keep Flower of the Gold Rush pumped with this energy, veteran drummer Brian Baverman and bassist Chris Barlow cut the rhythm tracks live with Whittaker and Erickson, whose lead “scratch” vocals sometimes made it to the final mix. Guitar solos were cut live as these rhythm tracks were recorded, and later vocal overdubs received no digital pitch editing.
“Train to Alabama”, the opening track on Flower, shakes with raw power, and typifies the high octane blues rock that fuels most of the album. Its lyrics are poetic and strange (“Baby gone and caught that train rolling out revival/That golden throne sits low, so low”), a thread that runs through the record, with the moody “You Answer First” (“Rocket man in myth/You’re the one that I’m with”) and the title track, which features unearthly vocals in the high register which you’ve never quite heard before. “The Paper”, a Latin number, shows the band still willing to reach into its stylistic bag for a few surprises, as does the roots-y two-part harmony vehicle “Wood County,” a track which, according to Erickson, “aims to put the listener on his country porch on a summer day.” But even though Flower of the Gold Rush has its poignancy (“Nierika’s Eyes” and the acoustic ballad “Nighttime Fare” feature moving lead vocals from Whittaker and upright bass from Barlow), the record’s backbone is composed of guitar-driven rockers like “All the Way”, the slow and funky epic “Dear Candy,” and the naughty “Jellybean,” which channels the spirit of late 1970’s Heart.
To promote Flower of the Gold Rush, The Cla-Zels will do a series of radio, TV, and in-store record shop appearances this fall. They will also augment their stage show by bringing back professional dancers and video, both staples of their 2010 shows. The band will preview the album at Howard’s on October 19th in Bowling Green, OH and Northside Tavern in Cincinnati on November 27th. These and other shows all lead up to the album’s Release Concert at Newport’s York Street Café Saturday, December 8th.
Flower of the Gold Rush will be available in a deluxe digipak CD format at select retail stores, as well as online through digital avenues such as iTunes and CDbaby.com. www.clazels.com.