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The Slip
Flying Frog Records

So here is the deal. I have this record to review… but I think that the best way for you to understand how I feel about this record is to hear my comments as I am listening to it for the first time. So, grab some popcorn and a soda, and lean back so you are comfortable… Here goes: (Tape starts, CD starts.)

I really like the cover of this record. The artwork evokes the feeling of a museum, and getting into this first song, it’s got the same feeling. A minute and a half into "Catacea" (whatever that means), you’ve got this string section and all these extraneous noises. It could go a lot of places, or it could stay here. Well, it didn’t seem to go anywhere. It was just a sonic sculpture. "So Dope" kicks in with a funky drumbeat. The guitar player is obviously pretty good; we’ll have to see where it goes. OH MY LORD! I’ve been duped into reviewing a jazz record! (Pause) I guess I’ll give it a shot. The musicianship is adequate, but the themes are nothing fantastically new. My favorite part so far is the drums. Like most Jazz, it just takes way too long to get where you are going… and then you come to find out, that is nowhere. "Paint Cans" begins with some interesting tappity-tap polyrhythms. Sounds like they are beating on kitchen pans instead of paint cans, but oh well. I guess that track is just this short little banging on cans thing. (They claim it is based on a Ghanaian traditional song.) "The Invocation" kind of lays it back, and we get some vocals, finally. The vocal style is not at all jazzy. They try to trick you into thinking you are getting a jazz record, but here I’ve got the most gutless, G. Love imitation of all time. It’s just this guy trying to tell stories over music that is not that interesting. I think that these fellows cannot decide if they want to be a groove band or a jazz band or if they are trying to be a hybrid of the two styles. "Johnny’s Tune" has another nice little groove going, and I hate to say this, but I hope that the guy doesn’t sing, because his vocals kind of ruined that last song for me. He doesn’t seem to be able to play guitar and sing at the same time. At least that is the impression I get. He alternates… He sings for a couple minutes, and then plays guitar for a couple minutes, and then sings for a minute. Seems kind of pointless to me. It does have some riffs lifted from "Grazin’ In The Grass" though, so it almost feels familiar in some ways. I think if you are into the Medeski, Martin and Wood style groove jazz, this record may appeal to you. "When Cloudy Hushes Moon" is a little more downbeat and pretty. It’s a little more traditional, almost Wes Montgomery style jazz. I’m just left with this feeling that the drummer is the best musician in the band, in talent and technique and tone. The bass player is good; he lays down a nice groove, even though it seems understated. I guess the guitarist is good too, but you know… They tricked me into a JAZZ record. "When Cloudy…" ends in a nice cymbal wash, almost a new age feel. That is how mellow it is.

"A Crack in The Sundial" begins with some Elvis Costello "Allison"-like music, and there seem to be more lyrics in this one. The vocalist is a little better, not quite as disjointed… But still, he just rambles on and follows the music. It’s nothing spectacular. He basically sings the guitar line. "Hallway" is a nothing track. "My Room" is a little more be-bop style jazz, a little more traditional. It’s a real nice track. Nothing groundbreaking, but it is well arranged and tonally it is nice. Jazz people will love it. "Hey Worrier" starts off with the vocals right away in a very Ben Folds style, minus of course, the piano through the Marshall stack. It is a sing-songy lyric, a little fun, but definitely with a Ben Folds’ feel. Nice time changes. "Hey Worrier, little brother, one of these things is not like the other. Has it got you down? Are you feeling frustrated? Plum-jaded? I have felt the same way too." "Tohu Bohu" has some nice bossa nova and swing elements, but overall, it is very blah. "Rhythm and Gold" is the most accessible track for me. It doesn’t really sound like jazz at all. It is very downbeat and almost folky at times, with a bunch of nonsense words. I don’t think there are any real lyrics, just a bunch of "na na na’s. ya-da-da." But the melody is wonderful and well put together. If you dig the String Cheese Incident, you may like this band. Okay, "Rhythm and Gold" is definitely my favorite thing on here. The first four minutes are nice and slow, and then it slowly works up and BOOM! It breaks free into this beautiful rhythmic being. It also has the nicest vocals and overall presentation on the record. In the second part of the song, the only real lyrics seem to be "rhythm and gold, na na na na." But it was worth sitting through the record to get to this track. "S’Debatable" is more of the predictable jazz style. But thank goodness for "Rhythm And Gold" because it redeemed the whole record for me. That’s it.

So, basically, it’s like this: If you are into the jam-band semi-jazz, this record may appeal to you. For me, this record exists for track 12. Everything else is filler. So there.

–David DeVoe

Track Listing:

  1. Catacea
  2. So Dope
  3. Paint Cans
  4. The Invocation
  5. Johnny’s Tune
  6. When Cloudy Hushes Moon
  7. A Crack In The Sundial
  8. Hallway
  9. My Room
  10. Hey Worrier
  11. Tohu Bohu
  12. Rhythm and Gold
  13. S’Debatable

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