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Top Five Fridays: Slander

February 7, 2014

Hey Folks,

Well it’s that time of the week again! Yup! That’s right, it’s “Top Five Fridays” where I find me some cool cats willing to take the time out of their craziness to share five of their favorite records with the rest of us.  As always, you the reader get the maximum bang for your buck. You get introduced to an artist who I think is just off the hook and you also get turned on to the music THEY dig.  It’s just a win win win situation for everyone. So take time off the round the clock Olympics coverage, gird your loins, and prepare for greatness, because this week we are hanging with New England Rockers SLANDER, and folks it don’t really get much cooler.
photo by michelle gemma

photo by michelle gemma

Slander is a five piece female fronted rock outfit hailing from Mystic, CT.  They describe themselves on their band camp thusly: “Slander is a rock band playing pop songs, a pop band playing rock songs.”  I could not agree more,  Slander is a crew that possess a dark, guitar-driven post-punk sound, but they are not afraid of hooks, great choruses, and solos. They have been dropping singles on their band camp since 2012, and there’s more to come!  My favorite moment has to be the one-two punch of their single “Magnets/Ghosts.” “Magnets” is a tense riff-rocker with Julia Farrar giving us a commanding vocal performance, while “Ghosts” shows an emotional side to the hard rocking ruckus without sacrificing any of the savage cool.  That’s an impressive thing to do and Slander NAILS it.  Make sure to check em out! With out further ado, here’s Slander’s Top Five!
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Lo Fidelity Allstars “How to Operate With a Blown Mind” Skint 1998

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This is one of my favorite records, a perfect blend of hip hop & dance grooves, scintillating bass, and samples galore, with all the power of a traditional rock band. The artwork is sublime- several arresting fonts at the end of the Font Revolution coupled with melted images in a collage of concise construction. The group also used fake names, led by vocalist Wrekked Train, who left the band before they even came to America, at the height of their popularity. The Train had said what he wanted to say and got out, a serious statement that coincided with the scathing cultural observations of his lyrics. I was able to see them do a DJ set while in London during their meteoric rise, and was thrilled to hear nothing but American soul classics from the 60’s and 70’s. This record is a monstrous brew of groove and heart, and truly shows the succinct listener a way to operate with a blown mind.

Ciccone Youth “The Whitey Album” Blast First 1988

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Sonic Youth was the coolest band of their time, and being a part of their audience anticipating the release of The Whitey Album was a once in a lifetime moment. But no one was prepared for the electronic beats coupled with their trademark noise, the exact content of the cover art, and the self- parody that was well out of reach of their contemporaries. This is a titanic slab defining the cultural zeitgeist that was the 1980’s at it’s near climax. By 1988, the party that had defined the decade was over- the stock market crashed and the Summer of Love being experienced during this time in Britain found it’s polar opposite in the American culture.  Ciccone was showing us the way to the future.

   Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence “Oar” Columbia 1969

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Alexander “Skip” Spence first found musical fame as the original drummer in Jefferson Airplane. After playing drums on their debut LP “Takes Off”, he was recruited to be part of the first west coast supergroup, who were being built to capitalize on the burgeoning rock scene of the late ‘60’s. That band became Moby Grape (which Spence now played guitar for) who released one of the great debut albums of the rock era and then collapsed under the weight of expectations. While recording the second Grape album in NYC, Spence had come under the spell of a group of fringe hippies who were more of a sect than a commune. Convinced Grape drummer Don Stevenson was out to kill him, Spence went to Stevenson’s  hotel room with a fire axe to prevent his own demise. Upon finding Stevenson was already at the studio, Spence hailed a cab to finish the deed. Fortunately, this act was foiled, and Spence was sentenced to six months in Bellevue Hospital. Upon his release, he asked Columbia Records for $1000 and a motorcycle. He decamped to Nashville to record “Oar” on a simple three track recorder, playing all of the instruments himself. When the record was complete, he rode the motorcycle to California, never to record again. He was 22 years old.

 Dif Juz “Extractions” 4AD 1985

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A mostly instrumental group, Dif Juz managed to mine a particular vein of post-punk that no one else has been able to traverse. “Dif Juz” was commonly known to be a play on “different jazz”, but to me, I always felt it was “diffuse”, which is an exact delineation of what they were trying to achieve musically. Able to navigate a delicate crevice, or thunder past any obstacle, they created a range of sonic scripture that did not rely on the word. They could be absolutely gripping, and then aspire to a dissolution that the listener never could have anticipated. Completely majestic and humble at the same time, this is a singular musical achievement.

Speed, Glue & Shinki “Eve” Erebus 1971

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Defying easy categorization, this Japanese psych-trio meld the fuzzy bleed of Deep Purple with more experimental meanderings, mirroring CAN, Led Zeppelin, and druggy bar-room blues along the way. Their legacy is surely cemented in the music cannon by the very glue they would huff.

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Special thanks to Slander drummer Rich Freitas and guitarist Luke Hunter for providing us with our records this week!  Remember folks check out Slander on Facebook and twitter.  They have new music dropping soon and you don’t want to miss out!  You can also check out a cool article Stereogum ran on them here.

Alright folks! It’s been real! Catch you all on the flip flop.

well peace out good people of the world,

Peter Winter

You can follow me on twitter: @peterwinter38

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