Don't call it a jam band, they've been here for years (c) LL Cool J
I'll get to The Slip's CD review in a sec, but I just want to preface this post: I hate when good bands that can play for more than 5 minutes at a time get labeled a "jam band" for obvious reasons. The first thing you think of are a bunch of Phish wannabees who probably overplay their music to the point of exhaustion. Oh wait, isn't that what everyone thinks when they hear "jam band?"
The only "jam band" that is legit is the Allman Brothers Band. Sure, the Grateful Dead rock, but after a while, I hear the same song over and over (FYI- I like the Dead, I just f-ing hate Phish...).
Back on track, The Slip are not a jam band - at least not in my opinion. This trio of Boston guys rocks as a controlled and cohesive unit. Made up of guitarist/lead singer Brad Barr, his brother and drummer Andrew, and their bassist buddy Marc Friedman, they anticipate and mesh with an uncanny instinct. Up until now, their music has been pretty free flowing, from their live 1997 debut disc From the Gecko, to their newest and most polished recording, Eisenhower.
You may recognize The Slip from Guitar Hero fame, as their first single "Even Rats" was featured on the game. The catchy and melodic opening bass line is crushed by a sweet guitar riff and then complimented by Brad's lead vocals. His singing style is a combination of Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics, albeit without the raspiness and English accent, and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie / The Postal Service.
While "Even Rats" may be the first single off the CD, it is the happy-go-lucky "Children of December" that really gives this album its identity. As the lead off song, "Children of December" catches your attention immediately with its fast paced but low-key sound. Their producer on this album, Matthew Ellard, was obviously very influential in forming the style of this album. A veteran producer of such artists as Elliott Smith, Billy Bragg, and Wilco, Ellard infused The Slip with a well crafted direction in the studio. You can almost hear the Elliott Smith in "Suffocation Keep" over a simple acoustic guitar, as well as the Jeff Tweedy in "Life in Disguise." The Slip even throw in a little Flaming Lips-like sound in the connected songs "First Panda in Space" and "The Soft Machine."
Overall, this album is a break from their loose and improvisational style, yet it comes through loud and clear. The Slip, who won "Best Live Act 2006" by the Boston Music Awards, continue to shine in their live performances; yet Eisenhower proves that The Slip are just as talented in the studio.
Here's to hoping their partnership with Matthew Ellard is a lasting one. Until next time, here's the definitive track off Eisenhower and a link to 3 other streamable songs.
The Slip -
*Children of December.mp3
Click here for:
"Life in Disguise"