Friday, September 21, 2007

Reviews:: Slow Runner Shiv!

Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a band is getting dropped. I know that is harsh, but in most cases it is true. One casualty of the "make our record, not your record" is Slow Runner, but as a result they were able to create a self-released record the way they wanted. In most scenarios, unabashed freedom has many ups, but still suffers from a few unexpected downs and this record is no different. Led by Michael Flynn, Slow Runner uses keys, guitar hooks, drums and a smattering of other instruments in this pseudo-slacker rock LP - Shiv! - but they manage to side step a lot of the pitfalls that plague bands in this genre.

The record starts with the guitar heavy Lower Your Standards, and the band uses effects and big choruses to jump start the record, but sadly follows it up with Varsity Drag. I'll have to be honest, Varsity Drag almost made me hit eject. The opening lyric - Park your car on the lawn, their parents are gone to Boca Raton, for the weekend - over the repeated keyboard chord, guitar swells and talk of adolescent drug was a bit too cliché for my liking, but the rest of the record more than offsets this track. And to be fair, the band tosses in some nice poppy horn work that almost saves the song.

Slow Runner made the record they wanted to and over the course of the 11-songs, you can tell they stuck true to their vision. Some songs stand out like the somewhat out of place skit Sounds Crazy But It Just Might Work or the programmed beats and samples on To Anyone In The World Who Cares because they step out of the flow of the album, but the band also delivered several tracks that are well worth the price of admission. The funny thing is despite wanting to find their own sound, a lot of the better tracks will actually hit home with a big audience.

Deep End has all the makings of just another guitar track, as the first verse foreshadows a huge booming build, but instead it uses keyboards and a nice guitar work and let's the band settles into a nice rhythm. Long Division is a nice radio friendly track that you can easily imagine on a soundtrack or on TV. It's crisp and simple, and the 80's backbone is a fresh approach for the song.

But I have to say my favorite tracks are the bedroom pop numbers like Somebody To Smother and The Usual Chords. The simple piano lines and minimal percussion work, and show off Michael's vocals. Somebody to Smother uses nice echoing vocals, sound effects and just the right amount of electric work and horns to keep the song moving forward without losing the intimacy of the track.

The record is a grower, as over the last few days my opinions on the songs have changed considerably. Slow Runner isn't trying to split the atom, and sometimes that's all you need from your music. They wanted to make their record, find their sound - which for the most part is good music that skips along happily, adding the subtle nuances you crave from pop music.
MP3:: The Usual Chords

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Posted at 5:05 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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