Slow Jets are a three piece from Baltimore. Their
own website describes them as a sort of "supergroup", not implying
that they have x-ray vision or anything (i hope), but rather
that the band is full of Baltimore-area, indie scene veterans.
This fact shows in the quality of the music that the band is
capable of producing. That is to say that Remain in Ether
is a mature album full of interesting songs with quirky vocals,
catchy riffs, and great guitarwork.
After listening to the album several times, and spending a while wracking my brain for a comparison or convenient catch-phrase to describe the band, i have come up with this: "Slow Jets sound like what would happen if The Church and Sonic Youth got together to record, and then Mark E. Smith stopped by with a 12 pack". The music has odd, stream of consciousness lyrics that remind me of Steve Kilbey, often sung in a pronounced nasally twang, a la Mark E. Smith (of the Fall), overtop a layer of distroted guitars and impeccable rhythms.
Is that a pretentious description or what? Okay, really, i
like this album, and it does seem to combine some of the experimentalism
of Sonic Youth (wierd
noises, different song structures, feedback, etc.) with the
overt pop rock sensibilities of The Church. According to their
press sheet, this is supposed to make me think "Guided By Voices",
but since my entire exposure to that band is limited to drunken
frat boys ranting about how great the band is (and never really
listening to them), i will have to trust that Morphius Records
knows what they are talking about. Which leads me to wonder
if GBV also sound like a hypothetical cross-pollination between
Sonic Youth and The Church.....
Okay, well, let's consider some songs, shall we? Although there
are no clunkers on this disc, the obvious standout track is
Country Under Canada. Actually, this is a mini song cycle
consisting of three parts. Land Seeker is a lenghty instrumental
prelude that grows and grows, until the (Mark E. Smith like)
vocals come in on Grand Delusion singing catchy lyrics
over jangly guitars, which then turns into The Würm
Lies Down, which is a lenghty guitar jam that seems to come
straight off of Daydream Nation. Overall it's
about 7 minutes of toe tapping, guitar rocking, goodness. And,
despite the long jam out nature of the song, it's actually really
catchy. I have, twice now, found myself humming "in a country
/ under Canada / in a coutry / un dahhhhhhhh". I suppose that
there are worst things i could be singing along to...
Other standouts include Famous Flaws of King Ubu, which
almost sounds like an outtake from Superchunk's Here's
to Shutting Up with a flurry of catchy riffs and poppy
lyrics. Last Lights and Just Be Darker are both
very 80's ish songs, in that they feature subdued keyboarding,
a general sense of quirkiness, and effected guitarwork.
But really, there are no bad tracks here. I am, in fact, quite
impressed with Slow Jets. Apparently they have 2 other albums
out, but i can't vouch for those. This one, on the other hand,
is very enjoyable.
I heartily recommend Remain into Ether for guitar rock fans of
all flavors. There are many different textures here, and i can
pretty much guarantee that you will find something you like.