Clay Melton Band

Clay Melton Band
Ask any of the thousands of fans who’ve been energized by Clay Melton Band’s high octane shows throughout their home state of Texas, and they’ll usually use names like John Mayer and Foo Fighters to describe their explosive vibe. But dig deeper into Clay’s musical journey and you’ll hit on that classic moment at age 11 when he heard Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” and his world quickly changed.

Influenced further by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, Clay was being hailed as a young master guitarist by his mid-teens. The Dallas International Guitar Festival proclaimed Clay “one of the TOP 10 Guitar Players in Texas under 20 years old” after his performance brought down the house.

More recently, Clay Melton Band has received phenomenal feedback on their new EP from industry greats such as Grammy winning producer Jared Lee Gosselin (Velvet Revolver, Frank Zappa, Macy Gray) who said, “This kid is a force of nature!”

Also a Grammy-winning producer, Joel Soyffer (Joe Cocker, Doobie Brothers, Aloe Blacc) mixed and mastered the EP at Coney Island Studios.

Now well past the “teenage sensation” stage, 22-year-old Clay and his group, Clay Melton Band – featuring drummer Zach Grindle and bassist Raymon Minton – have developed a guitar driven pop-influenced alt-rock style that draws dynamically on his blistering Texas guitar influences.

Other tracks from the self-titled EP include “Remember,” which Clay penned at 17 and is the set’s representative “breakup song,” addressing our tendency to feed frustration rather than address real problems. “Stop & Listen” is a harmony laden power ballad tapping into the part of a relationship where one partner comes to the conclusion that he or she just doesn’t have the same desire anymore. In the song, Clay urges us to “Stop and listen to the soft sound of love, running away/So quiet in its escape/Then one day you wake/There’s nothing inside.”

The music videos for “Tonight” and “Home” were recorded at SugarHill Studios in Houston owned by Dan Workman (ZZ Top, Beyonce) who said, “I’ve had the privilege of watching Clay evolve from a gifted intuitive guitarist to a complete performer and songwriter. He has managed the hardest of Tasks: crafting a musical identity that lives up to the promise of a precocious talent.”

The Breton Sound
You could accuse the Breton Sound of creating awfully high expectations for itself if you assume that the pop/rock music audience knows its Aristotle. Eudaemonia was his term for the highest human good, but more people will likely learn that as I did (by Googling it), so the album title signals little more than these guys don’t feel obliged to dumb things down. They certainly don’t feel an obligation to keep it tight; on two of the EP’s four songs, the tracks are six minutes long or longer. “No More Worries” and “Lines” don’t seem baggy, though. The surplus of pop ideas that bounce around through the former are united in a “Champagne Supernova”-like instrumental conclusion centered on Stephen Turner’s lead guitar melody. “Lines” has a prog vibe for me cued partially by the number of distinct sections in the song and partially by Jonathan Pretus’ vocal, which echoes Phil Collins circa Trick of the Tail-era Genesis.

The ghost of Oasis makes its presence felt on occasions, more in the band’s clear love of melodic pop/rock songs and big rock ‘n’ roll guitars than in a self-conscious Anglophilia. The band makes immediately accessible music that’s designed to be the catalyst of a big crowd experience, even though the Breton Sound have played few gigs so far. Still, the shorter “Crisis or Carnival” and “Sunshine & Ragtime Pt. 2” would have benefited from more careful think-throughs. The first, like the EP title, has a whiff of cleverness that takes the edge off an otherwise punchy track, while the latter uses the very familiar “bore us/chorus” rhyme, resolving verses with a lyrical commonplace.

It’s evident throughout Eudaemonia that Pretus and Turner have ideas to spare; it will be interesting to see if that means they’ll continue to write stuffed and sprawling songs, or if they’ll deploy their ideas more judiciously in the future. Both possibilities have promise.