May 06, 2004

Slacks "Slacks"

Have you ever wondered what Trans Am would sound like if they were a country-rock band? If so, then Slacks is for you.

No, wait, please don't stop reading! This is not journalistic hyperbole at its worst!

On the surface--meaning the first few moments of album opener "Shintown"--Slacks sounds like your traditional instrumental math-rocky band. A drum beat tapping over a glistening atmospheric synth line..but wait, what's that I hear in the faint distance...a banjo? YES! That is indeed a banjo you hear! And what's that I hear on the next song--slide guitars? Yes! Slide guitars! And is that a country vibe I'm feeling all over the rest of the album? Yes! Is this attitude a good one? Yes! I've got to admit that it took me by surprise, but then again there's a damn jumping bass on the cover of this record, so should I have really been surprised by this band's country nature?

I don't think so.

Slacks is just one long, continuous trip down the highway, one nonstop afternoon in rural America, and I'm quite happy about it. This threesome have been making music together for nearly a decade now (several of these songs date back to 1995), and the lazy, devil-may-care attitude is quite prevalent. (Though I've no evidence to show for it, I bet they're all veterans of other bands and this is their little diversion.) I can just see these guys sitting together in their garage studio, shootin' the shit and havin' such a good time.

Heck I bet I know what these guys are thinking. I can just see it, they're thinking: Vocals? Eh, they're nice, but not important. Rockin' out? If you want to. Hey! Let's make a song that sounds like something you'd hear in a movie if the scene was driving along the interstate in West Texas! Should we record a new song, or should we crack open that case of beer that's in the fridge there? Hey! Maria from Victory at Sea, you wanna come over and hang out...oh, you've got a song you'd like to record with us? Hell yeah, let's do it! Shit, we got nothing but time, let's just jam.

But this isn't a jam record! No, Slacks have some really great musical skills, and the music is never ever sloppy. Just listen to the solid gold of "Solid Gold." It has a nice rock feel to it, but once the song gets going, you realize they're poppin' some post-rock on your hipster ass, and then to confuse you further, they pop out that banjo. It sounds reall good, it sounds tight--heck, this whole album reeks of professional musicians--but it's so loose and easy-going that you don't really notice the professionalism.

I like that.

I like it a lot.

These Slacks have made a downright enjoyable little record. Bless their pea-pickin' hearts. If you like your math-rock a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, then kick back and slack with these Slacks. Have a beer, and then have another. There's plenty to go around.

--Joseph Kyle

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