Saturday, September 20, 2014

Indie Music: The Slang

by Germar Derron

The Slang just earned a new fan.  I listened to the single.  I listened to the self-titled EP.  For a while, I just grimaced. This is my music – power pop rock.  But can indie ever really be pop?  For instance, The Killers were The Killers before they were Queen-like operatic rock gods from outer space.  Because this is a debut, I needed to meet The Slang, before I was knocked over by effects, arrangements, and huge vocals.  A few chords on a distorted guitar is the traditional indie band greeting.  These guys walked into my house and grabbed a couple of cold ones like we were old friends.  I need courtship and foreplay.

The EP may be “overproduced.”  I always hated that term, and most people can’t define it. I think it’s what happens when indie bands hit the studio with producers who “shape” their sound.  That shape almost always sounds the same – softer, gentler, and continuous.  I understand the need for consistency on an album, but here, three songs could be the same song and it has nothing to do with songwriting or instrument playing.

The sugary sweet vocals reminds me of my days in Christian rock.  Everything sounds very inoffensive and crystal clear.  It’s like that one Switchfoot album, but without a “Meant to Live.”  Plus, Switchfoot had the best mixing engineers in the business – the Lord-Algaes. Here, the vocal sometimes rides on top, when it could be buried a bit.  There are small pitch problems too (or if I was Randy Jackson, I’d say “you were a bit pitchy dawg”). I’m not sure if that’s an effect, a choice, or Auto-tune’s day off.  But I don’t like it.

Ultimately, I feel like when I hear these guys live, and I will, they will sound nothing like this EP.  I hope they sound like this, but louder, and sweatier, and angrier – like rock.  

Then . . . I fell in love.

The fourth track that I heard was “Rule the World.”  I thought, “this is more like it.” In this track, the band creeps closer to bands that I secretly love, like Rooney. The next track, “Find a Way,” is California-rock perfection (they're from Ohio). If The Slang is these two tracks, someone sign them - but now.  Outside of The Strokes, I have not enjoyed rock this much in a decade – and I actually quite enjoy rock.

Because I only liked two songs from a five song EP, I am tempted to say two of five stars.  But those songs are too good – 3.5 out of 5.
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