Boomkat Product Review:
Clay Rendering return with a majestically gothic trip to the west on their second LP for Hospital Productions ‘California Black Vows’. While their connections to Wolf Eyes are by now all but a distant memory, they here channel shoegaze and stoner vibes in that unique style, now aided by expanded personnel and production from Dylan Neal, who provides them with a widescreen sense of scale hitherto missing from their work.
"California Black Vows' chronicles the groups’ move away from the comfort zone straight into the dark heart of the west. Since their last album, the band relocated from the suburbs of the Midwest to the sinister shine of Los Angeles. The cover’s icicle is the last remnant of their time in familiar surroundings. More change was to follow. A duo for most of its existence, Clay Rendering’s core of Mike and Tara Connelly chose to invite two allies into their closed circle. The enlisted are Sera Timms of Black Mare on bass and Joe Potts of Sollilja on drums.
The album reveals itself slowly for the first minutes of “Blood Into Wine”, until the refrain opens wide and dives headlong into the deep. It’s a statement of intent. Whatever happens after this, we are in it together. From there, things rev up with uncertainty and a nervous edge. “Another Roll of the Iron Dice”...whose number is up? Tara takes on more vocals than previous records, haunting the nocturnal ocean with “Once in the Well,” “Black Vows” and “Take Hold.” Strangers come and go and dance and die in “We Wait.” Questions remain unanswered in “Don’t Understand You.”
With Dylan Neal (Thief) on production duties, Clay Rendering have delivered their fullest and most fleshed out album to date. The immediacy of the recording gives the feel that these songs are taking shape as you hear them. Guitars melt over the keyboards and synths throughout the proceedings. The record is filled with a noir life force that transitions back and forth from desperate wails to moonlit hymns. The vocals are clearer and more direct than ever, letting you know exactly where Clay Rendering stand. The bass provides the heartbeat of the mission. The drums ensure everything lands in its place. Insomnia, frantic flailing, body language, staring into the forced and artificial landscape, finding solace among the chaotic foliage...all these things play a role. The comfort has been shed. Foreboding stars in the western lands bring out the strangest parts in us all. “California Black Vows” is the howling cry to let those parts show their teeth and the soothing voice to let you know it will all be over in the morning.”