|The Slowdown - 'A' (Voyageur Records)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Thursday, 31 January 2013 04:00|
This six piece band straight out of Kansas City claim to be a melodic, experimental rock 'n' roll outfit and cite influences as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Doves and Tomahawk. 'A' is the debut album from this band of brothers and friends, formed by singer Sam Hoskins and keyboard player Joe Hoskins from the ashes of their previous band Elevator Division. A self-produced effort, I hope the music embedded in the shiny grooves of 'A' is going to be more imaginative than the title of this album.
Opener 'Acting Strange Of Late' is a strong starter, slick sounding, upbeat modern rock with nice melodies. The vocals of band frontman and visionary Sam Hoskins are slightly distorted here and they fit the song well, they compliment the song giving an edgy feel to the slick, smooth production job.
'Runaway' is rich in soothing, gentle harmonies, a dreamy tune that literally flows from the speakers and fills the room. Upbeat drums mixed with lazy, laid back vocals and sparse instrumentation make for a captivating sound that draws you in for a small 3 minute plus journey into the unknown, and it's a good place to be.
The acoustic blues based feel of single 'A Mirror/A Torch' showcases the diversity of the band as it builds on the core of a dirty old blues riff. That dirty riff is in turn used to great effect as a refrain for the melodies to follow the simple song structure making one of the best songs on the album.
A couple of instrumental segues bookend the oddly structured 'To Wonder' and 'Visitor' and there is actually some very tasty sections in these songs. Overall they have mid sections that groove like Aerosmith and Zep at their '70s peak, but it's all wrapped up in modern rock melodies and production that give it a contemporary feel. Such as the impressive 'Left Home' with its extended instrumental sections giving it 'epic' status to my ears and take 'All Gone' for example, it builds on a picked acoustic chord progression to an epic Zep-inspired guitar workout, nice.
'Wardance' has a sorta QOTSA vibe going on, chugging riffs laced with Hammond style keyboards and the now trademark low vocal harmonies make for an entirely captivating mid paced song, that just sounds, for want of a better word...cool.
The vocals at times seem a bit low in the mix to my ears, but generally the production is spot on here. Several songs begin or end with seemingly left in glimpses of studio chatter that have been captured, I like this sort of thing it adds extra live feel to an album that is generally very polished.
Closing song 'Whispering Lights' is a beautiful sounding, acoustic based song that flows naturally over a softly played indie drum beat. The melodies and vocal harmonies here are dreamy and sublime and it's the most 'live' sounding song on the album, a great finisher for sure.