“We were working part-time all the time/ We were banking on the kindness of strangers and loved ones and those who fall between/ To give us everything, ’cause we need everything.” Those are the opening lines of “Working Part-Time,” by Glendale’s Henry Clay People, and they say a lot about this band and the times they live in. But they say so in a way that’s matter-of-fact, and I find that refreshing.
For the past few years the specters of Bruce Springsteen and U2 have been hanging over indie and punk rock, and bookish kids from Brooklyn or Portland or Montreal and tattooed guys from New Jersey have been trying to make huge, stadium-sized anthems. This trend has resulted in some good music, but lately I’ve been more excited by bands with modest ambitions.
Now, “Working Part-Time” is (kind of) an anthem, and there’s a fair amount of Springsteen-style roots-rock in the Henry Clay People’s sound. But the Henry Clay People play it revved up and ramshackle, more reminiscent of the Replacements than the E Street Band. In his prime, Replacements singer Paul Westerberg wrote some of the best anthems in rock, but they weren’t about being born to run, they were about being born to lose. And what made songs like “I Will Dare” and “Bastards of Young” so touching was their unspoken assumption that losers deserve love, too. “Working Part-Time” has some of that tenderness to it. They’re working hard, and it’s not paying off, and they know how much they need whatever kindness they get.
Republic of Letters also performs.
- Saturday, September 11, 2010, 8:30 p.m.
- Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego