Slim Wray Rocks Bowery Electric on Oct 15
Brooklyn duo Slim Wray plays catchy, purposeful, riff-driven blues-based rock. They don’t have anything in common with Iceberg Slim or Link Wray; then again, Pink Floyd didn’t have a whole lot in common with Mr. Anderson and Mr. Council, either. Their debut release Sack Lunch has heavier production and fatter drumming than your typical punk blues album. With a full rock band lineup, with bass and a second guitar, it’s easy to imagine these guys taking the songs in more of a metal direction. They’re playing Bowery Electric at around midnight on Oct 15; they seem like a band that would really want to kick out the jams onstage. Their songwriting is retro, as you would imagine from a band based in the blues: some of the songs have a garage rock feel, others work a more miniamlist version of the 70s sound that was simply called “hard rock” back then, which now more or less gets categorized as metal. Guitarist/singer Howzr’s lyrics have a wry humor; the vocals have a bluesy drawl, but don’t go over the top into Pearl Jam cartoonishness.
The opening track, I Gotta Girl (With a List of Needs) kicks off with Chris Moran’s flurrying drums and big chords into a snarling fuzztone minor-key riff, then eventually hits a halfspeed third-generation Sabbath groove, then back up with more pummelling rhythm – and then it fades out with a wave of feedback. Reaction is a straight up four-on-the-floor garage rock song with guitar multitracks and bass: riffrocking verse, catchy poppy chorus. Bear, a simple, swaying, funk-tinged shuffle, could easily go in a metal direction if they fleshed it out.
The jailhouse tale House of D is pretty hilarious, beginning as a spare acoustic blues tune and picking up from there; what the guys are in the slammer for turns out to be both funny and sad, a tale that rings all too true in post Giuliani-era New York. Long Long Way works a 4-chord hook for a hard-edged 60s folk-rock groove. Their version of Gloria looks straight back to the original by Them, complete with bass and multitracked, jangly guitars. Strychnine and then Cutout keep the biting garage rock vibe going.
Sunshine has a 60s psych-pop groove that gets more menacing as it goes along; it could pass for a demo for a song by the Turtles or the Grass Roots. With its tongue-in-cheek guitar pyrotechnics, Mr. Hunter might be a thinly disguised Grateful Dead parody: “Don’t ask why we always follow this little group around all day.” Abilene reaches toward a raw, punked-out Jon Spencer/Chrome Cranks feel. The album winds up with the riff-rocking, proto stoner metal tune Take a Number. The whole thing is a lot of fun.