After releasing the excellent $3 Dollars, A Half Pack of Smokes and Some Other Jive S**t album earlier this year, it a compilation of tracks from their earlier EPs with a couple of fresh treats for good measure, Slumlord Radio now uncage some brand new punk ‘n’ roll incitements to contemplate in the fiery shape of Too Pretty For Tijuana. It is an encounter which seems to have looked back at previous releases and taken the prime and prize elements from them, reseeded and honed them with new imagination, and then immersed the results in a new maturity and enterprise. Slumlord Radio is still as violently funky as before and as aggressively dirty, but now its sound is wrapped in a contagiously imaginative swagger and unpredictable adventure that has produced with ease the band’s finest moment yet.
Apparently bred in the slums of Grand Rapids and emerging in 2010, Slumlord Radio was soon stoking a reputation for the live shows and fusion of punk, sludge, metal, and unbridled power. Release wise, The Cats Pajamas in 2012 nudged attention though it was more the infectious raw rock ‘n roll of Tokyo Roadhouse Sonic Sex Castle the following year that found a new and wide range of appetites focusing in on the band; us included at this point. The potential fuelling the encounter was confirmed and stretched by the excellent No Trick Pony in 2014, a raw and grouchily aggressive offering which was as irritable as it was magnetic. As suggested earlier, with Too Pretty For Tijuana, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Tommy Erickson, bassist Mike Todd, and drummer Matt Claucherty seem to have reassessed past triumphs, taken all the richness from them and aligned all with new invention for a whole new escapade creatively fresh yet still distinctly Slumlord Radio.
Carrying a Tarantino like southern theme in air and word, Slumlord Radio the good, the bad, and the ugly; Too Pretty For Tijuana leaps from its cinematic spoken Intro into Bullwhip and a bar-room good time for all. With heavy beats stirring up caustic riffs as the recognisable growling roars of Erickson prowl the emerging cage of confrontation, the track is soon swinging its infectious sinews with belligerent and addictive prowess. The bass growl brewed is as gripping and predatory as the chunky riffs and tendrils of inflamed toxicity, a mix alone which ignites ears and imagination but once given an almost glam rock like host of hooks and grooves it becomes slavery in a speaker.
The following Debonair Dolomite strolls in on a magnetic rumble of beats from Claucherty, his thick bait wrapped in stoner sown lures of guitar aligning with seductive attitude soaked bass. From its perpetual rhythmic incitement, the song bounds along with hook driven infection and ripe grooving until mid-way when it suddenly drift into a slow smoulder of evocative melodies and vocal reflection. In no time at all though, things are brewing up again, intensity and energy rising until band and song are once more preying on the listener with their addictive and thrilling fierce shuffle.
A tangy resourcefulness soaks Southpaw next, its entrance laying a sultry and exotic Latin hued soundscape which simply lures the imagination in deep before the guitars begin to weave their scorched temptation and rhythms start showing their muscle. In the flow of a hanging man’s breath, rapaciously heavy grooves are stalking ears, their descriptive winy texture southern rock toned and thick as tar but equally adventurous as alongside flames of hard and classic rock escape with agreeably raw tones and textures in chase.
Intermission adds more of the underlying narrative before Tycoon gets dirty with the listener, again grooves, hooks, and beats colluding to infest ears with infectious endeavours and addiction forging enterprise. Anthemic roars from across the band only add to the insatiable persuasion of the song whilst backing up Erickson punk aggression perfectly. One of the shorter moments on the EP, the outstanding incitement sees blood rushing through veins and neck muscles stretched, leaving the listener exhausted yet energised ready for another almost insidious horde of grooves and intoxicating hooks to be enslaved by. Managing to unite old school punk, seventies hard rock, and garage spawned rock ‘n’ roll, Choke 66 spews imagination and inescapable bait across its incendiary trap, only losing a little steam when it too dips for a relatively brief moment of emotive calm.
With just an Outro piece to follow, the album is closed up by a new or certainly updated version of Fort Knox, a fan favourite which first appeared on the Tokyo Roadhouse Sonic Sex Castle EP. With greater definition to its grooves, clarity to its busy body and simply new energy in its heart, the track seems to relish its make-over, growing in its skin and emerging even more impressive than first time around. Simply the ‘teenager has become a man’, something which kind of applies to the Slumlord Radio sound generally, as Too Pretty For Tijuana ends on a lofty high.
Uncompromising, bruising, and incessantly dynamic, that is Slumlord Radio rock ‘n’ roll and fair to say we have become even more enamoured with through their new incitement.
Too Pretty For Tijuana is out now via Honyock/Silver Maple Kill Records @ the Slumlord Radio Bandcamp.
Pete RingMaster 01/10/2015
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