29 September 2015

Slug - Ripe


A lot of my friends are going on about this band; not heard anything about them before and then all of a sudden, my feed is full of them on my social media accounts.  After a brief investigation, I found that Slug is the project of Ian Black; Ian Black is a former member of Field Music who are revered as music saint in the North East of England for certain people.  For this project he is helped out by Peter & David Brewis (who are Field Music), Andrew Lowther (who is part of Field Music in a touring capacity), Rhys Patterson, Damo Waters and Ricky Murray. It is nice to see that whilst he is an ex-member of Field Music, there is still some a musical kinship between them. I will be honest here and state whilst I have heard of Mr Black's former band, not for any other reason than there is a hell of a lot of music out there.  They have always been on my list of acts I will listen to, but time keeps getting away.  But that is enough about them, let us discuss Slug;  Slug were formed in September 2014 after Ian Black had been merrily disruptive influence on The North East music scene for over a decade (taken from the Slug Facebook page).  So the band have not been in existence for that long, but they are already gaining a lot of attention.  It love this cover, it is rather bizarre and strangely hypnotic (as are the covers of their three single as well).  Now it is time to see if the attention is worthy or not....

Starting off the album is the song called "Grimacing Mask" which comes across as the title piece for a dark thriller where everyone is already dead.  It is strangely compelling introduction to the album, a brief introduction to set the scene for "Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic" (as if that is a sentence that you see every day).  Listening to this song put me in mind of Eels and their cover of the Missy Elliot song "Get Your Freak On"; the band have a swagger about them in this number, it has a mixture of glam rock, American 00's ala Wilco/Eels and some of the funkiest drumming I have heard in ages from an indie act.  This track has bowled me with its energy and outright bat crap crazy style - brilliant.  The next song is "Sha La La" changes direction once more, going lounge with a hint of rock to the mix.  I have a feeling even at this early stage that the pattern of changeable songs is already going to be the dominate factor of this record.  I am not as instantly engaged with this number; it is played very well and once more the drummer is nailing the number, but something is not right for me.  It is interesting, but no more than that.  "Eggs and Eyes" keeps on the pattern of change for this band, dropping a stylised indie rock number that is leaps and bounds ahead of quite a lot of the band's out there at the moment.  It is hard to explain as the sound does not want to be pigeon holed, but once more I am hearing the Eels in the band again and this is a really good thing in my book.

Next is one of the three singles from the album called "Greasy Mind" which sounds like it could have been created by Dutch Uncles, it was bugging me for ages where I had heard something akin to this group and once the penny dropped it made a lot me sense.  Off the wall indie with a sense of the bizarre, pop sensibilities and style.  "Shaking Your Loose Teeth" then decides to change the game once more, taking a smoother approach to proceedings.  Once more I am enjoying the song itself, it is a strange number with stranger title to make people clench their teeth in pain.  Another piece of indie pop that is not easy to place in one box which is beautiful to listen to, hard to review.  "Weight of Violence" starts with the sound of steel pans being played, then there is the sound of atmospheric vocals added to the percussion sound which drifts in and out of the song.  It is easy on the ears and quite relaxing, strange as ever from this band and I do not think they would have it any other way.  "Running to Get Past Her Heart" is another song to have been released as a single, it is a bass heavy number that sounds as if it was created for a cop drama or even a lost track from the film 'Get Carter'.  It is a good number once again, continuing the chameleon nature of the record where nothing is ever constant.  

"Peng Peng" is a piano number that sounds like the grand entrance to a ball by a leader on the eve of war, it is a grandioso number which is so over the top in both delivery and style.  If it had have been any other number, I probably would have laughed it off; but once again in the shifting album, it makes a lot more sense and also adds to the general confusing feelings that I am having towards this album at the moment.  The penultimate song is called "Kill Your Darling" which sings the mood into dramatic once more, part medieval bard number, part indie disco, part hipster; all smoother than an unblemished apple.  It is beautifully put together once more, it is still as bat crap crazy as the rest of the album and I am still as confused as ever.  "At Least Show That You Care" is a song that brings the spirit of Sparks to mind, it is as off the wall as ever and keeps that consistence by not being consistent at all.  It sound as if a murder has committed in another room and the play set around it is being performed by a cast of leading stage stars.   All in all, it ends the album in the best way possible.

The best way to describe this album is that it is inconsistent in style, but consistent in delivery.  Every song is over in the blink of an eye and all of them just feel like little windows onto stories that I would not have put together under one album.  A few of the numbers were not to my particular tastes, but the performance is of such a high quality that you cannot help but be impressed by end result of the album.  I am totally baffled by it to be honest, the shifting sand nature of the record makes it hard to put a pin on it.  I think that is the point of the record, it is a bit of an enigma and will probably end up being one of my records of 2015; it is bat crap crazy, an incredible performance and hard to categorise.  I can see why my friends like it, it is crazy like them.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Slug website here (where you can purchase the album (and other stuff) as well)

You can follow the activities of Slug on Facebook here

You can stream the album from Spotify here

You can stream the album from Deezer here

You can stream the album from Tidal here

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