What is this World Coming to?
Slingerland Ride attempts to answer this question all over their first EP.
Some bands are derivative because out of either arrogance or ignorance, they plunder sounds past, eschewing any respect, acknowledgement, or advancement necessary to borrowing a forerunner’s ideas. On the other hand, some celebrate as homage and, determined to fool no one, even reference their influences in verse. Enter Slingerland Ride. These four seasoned Chicagoans have been playing together for a couple of years, shun hoodwinking for genuineness, and have just released a self-titled testament to their honesty on Empty Adventure Music.
A Tom Waits carnival stomp lurches the listener into “Come to This,” a curmudgeonly lament on the modern state of things. A couple lines in, vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, and percussionist Michael Dean mentions a “rusty guitar.” This is a direct Tom Waits reference; but here we have a calmer, less frenetic style—this music is mature, taking its time to make its points. Dean later lyrically alludes to The Dead Kennedys—nice tribute to the band that helped along youthful social awakenings, a consciousness which colors the whole of Slingerland Ride. On the next tune, a tango rhythm illustrates the intricate dance it takes to “Leave it All Behind.” Sprinklings of Nick Cave evident throughout, a honky-tonk piano flavors “I Laugh Until I Cried.” “Junkie Queen,” an examination of false seduction, “colors, and lies,” is similarly enchanting with Douglas Abram’s Morphine-styled dual reeds propelling the grind of “no retreat/no surrender/no joy.” The EP closes with the cynical “When Nothing Seems Right,” a true tavern ballad where “the glass is half empty/and the bartender’s nowhere in sight.”
The whole pessimistic affair ends with the line, “welcome to your life.” Alongside artwork reminiscent of Dirt Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (hyper-normal people with blanked-out eyes), there is plenty to chew on for certain. There is balance, though; hope, “that thing with wings,” elevates the proceedings as a sense of celebration is always in play. Maturity and complexity also triumph. In conversation with bassist, Arunas Ingaunis, I learned that Slingerland Ride recently picked up another keyboard player. This should add even further dimension to a band that knows its past, present, future, what it wants to say, and how to say it.
Slingerland Ride 7.1/10. They play Quenchers on Wednesday, March 16th. Black Bear Combo opens. For more info and booking: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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