Music

Slobberbone: Slippage

Jason MacNeil

Slobberbone

Slippage

Label: New West
US Release Date: 2002-09-24
UK Release Date: 2002-09-16
Amazon
iTunes

When the Texas quartet known as Slobberbone started doing gigs in the middle of the '90s, the band were happy to play for brews and friends. Now, with a number of albums under their belts, this rollicking and grand rock and roll band have outdone themselves yet again. A series of finely written and perfectly executed roots rock songs on this fourth disc sounds like a band ready to take on all challengers for the top of the Americana hill. And although the title of this album might suggest they've taken a bit off around the edges, nothing about the record suggest a Slippage of any kind. Trust me.

Kicking off with a joyous rock track that has drummer Tony Harper keeping it all intact, "Springfield, IL." is one of the better, if not best, opening tracks you'll hear this year. Brimming with crunchy riffs, a bit of punk and all the alt.country a Midwestern band can deliver, the song just soars from start to finish. As well, a false finish only adds to the tune's luster. Lead singer Brent Best is only surpassed by the intricate '50s guitar noodling during the bridge. "Stupid Works" is a slight breather from the previous song, a mid-tempo beer soaked rock ballad that has a lot in common with early '60s pop. Here the arrangement tends to dictate the song, not allowing much room to improvise. "Write Me Off" returns to form though, a straightforward punk pop track in the vein of the Replacements and early Soul Asylum at times. Brian Lane is the song's unsung hero on the bass, propelling the track forward at a rapid pace.

Most of the alt.country or roots rock groups tend to either excel at ballads and are mediocre on the rock tracks or vice versa. The first true down-tempo ballad is "Sister Beams", a slow building piano-tinged track that has some sweet harmonies. The track itself resembles the Wallflowers in certain aspects, particularly "Sixth Avenue Heartache". "And she asked me if I'll stay with her, but I got things to do / Now he's dead, he must have lost his head when I struck him with what to do" Best utters in a raspy yet appealing voice. Another important contribution to the album is producer Don Smith. Smith, who has worked with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and the Rolling Stones to name a few, works his magic on tunes like "Butchers". Here Smith seems to excavate what is at the band's core, a rock sound with punk undertones.

The second half of the album begins with "Sweetness, That's Your Cue", resembling Marah circa Kids in Philly. Whether it's the harmonica giving it a certain flavor or the simmering rhythm guitar, the listener knows it's heading in the right direction, but not exactly when. "I'm pissing away everything I used to hold," Best sings over a stellar background. It's another example of how the band tends to tightly pack each song with as much oomph as possible, making it all the more enjoyable. Perhaps the only miscue is its choice of covers. Resorting back to "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees, the number misses the mark from the get-go, despite a Rolling Stones circa Exile On Main Street approach to it.

Comparisons to Wilco and other alt.country bands are a dime a dozen, but for a song like "Find the Out", it still holds water. A front porch stomp with harmonica, electric guitars and pianos resembling Neil Young in his prime, it's perhaps the album's darkhorse. Not able to be pigeonholed into any one style, this seems an appropriate compliment to Slobberbone. And at more than six minutes, the song is an ambling track that has a large amount of flow too. "Downtown Again" is a hit and miss affair, a deliberate buildup to the chorus that seems a bit overproduced and polished to its detriment. The harmonies take away from what momentum it has, coming off more like British rock in the style of Oasis. By the end, it's on its last sonic legs.

Ending with a brief acoustic throwaway in "Back", the band has reached another fork in the road. But given how each album has improved on the predecessor, it's a high or low road that will have plenty of tailgaters. A keeper if found.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.