Sunday, August 05, 2007

From Tennessee to Texas

Slider Pines,
Road, Avenue, Railroad,
Wire to Ear Records [9/25/07]

To me, Memphis is a strange mix of strip malls, lame tourist traps, unsung talent, and racial unease. In my mind, it's a weird town.
-- Joey Shanks, Slider Pines

From the press notes, I couldn’t tell whether this trio (Shanks, Bill Spellman, and Andy Lester) was based in Dallas or Memphis, but they do sound vaguely Southern. It’s not that the music is vague—it’s fairly hard-rocking stuff—just that the Southern thing is subtle rather than pronounced, i.e. more Big Star than Muscle Shoals,
to keep those Deep South analogies going. (The band's MySpace
indicates that Texas is their current stomping ground.)

I don’t know if Slider Pines have ever been compared to Big
Star, but other writers have namechecked the Black Crowes, the Pernice Brothers, the Shins, and the Hold Steady. On my first listen, I heard only the Pernice Brothers—guitarist Shanks sings like Joe Pernice—but on my second pass through Road, Avenue, Railroad, I could hear the Shins, too, though I still don’t hear the Black Crowes or the Hold Steady. Your mileage, as ever, may vary.

Until their latest, I was a big Shins fan, but now they’re starting to bore me, and I’ve never been crazy about any of the acts mentioned above—Big Star aside. Still, I like this record. Pretty straight-forward for my tastes, but there’s this appealing retro 1970s thing going on. If anything, it’s more Cheap Trick than Big Star, but they’re in the same ballpark.

Some groups do what’s already been done, and come across
as completely redundant. Others trod the same well-worn
paths, yet still manage to create something compelling. It’s
a fine line, of course, and this is all thoroughly subjective.

While I recently took the Selfish Gene to task for their lack of originality, Slider Pines are hardly more cutting edge. Arguably, they’re even more predictable. There’s just a greater degree of confidence going on here—less self-consciousness, less of a desire to impress. I like that, and I like Road, Avenue, Railroad.

Endnote: For more information, please see the official Slider
Pines website
. Band image from their site, Big Star from the AMG.

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