Saturday, March 8, 2014

Let's Actually Listen To Albums - Totally Slow Self-Titled

Here's a novel idea: instead of just endlessly accumulating mp3s and tossing them into the iTunes/Spotify shuffle machine, I'm gonna specifically listen to a record a day, all the way through, and record what I think of it here. Basically, just go track-by-track and write what I think of what I'm hearing as I hear it, and then kinda give a summary of it after that. Maybe this will count as a review? Who knows. Anyway, the first record I'm doing is Totally Slow's debut LP, out through Self Aware Records in Charlotte NC, which I bought on impulse today at the suggestion of the clerk at Sorry State records in downtown raleigh (really cool new record store by the way, focused mostly on punk/hardcore but a pretty good selection of older stuff too, so check it out). Here's the links:
[bandcamp] - band's bandcamp
[bandcamp] - this record on bandcamp

When I lived in Charlotte I basically thought there wasn't much of a music scene outside of the billion tough guy hardcore and death metal bands with unreadable logos. I wish I'd heard Totally Slow live before I moved out of there. Album opener "Wasted Days" is fast-paced, driving pop-punk, not the newer emo or hardcore tinged stuff but classic melodic punk. There's a fun noise break in the middle of the song, too, which I thought was pretty cool. Acid Rain drops the tempo a bit but it's the catchiest song I've heard in a while. That hook is enormous. The next song, Worst Case, has a pseudo-surf vibe, with the seasick whammy bar nonsense and the guitar solo. It's peppy, but also really bleak. Highest Hill has an emo vibe to it which made me at first kind of weary of it, it sounded less original than the stuff before it. It grew on me though, as the intensely bizarre high-pitched "yeah!" bouncing in the middle of the song jarred it out of complacency. This Town is a pretty awesome inversion of the punk and pop-punk "gotta get out of this town" vibe, and for a punk song it's awfully domestic. Phone was alright but it didn't do much for me... on the other hand, Brain Is On Fire opened in a cool way and had some really cool indie rock riffing throughout with a slightly dissonant noisy vibe to it. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was listening to a pop-punk cover of Sonic Youth with this song. I liked that a lot. No Flowers opens up with a ton of energy, kicking into a strangled "whoa-oh" bridge that must just cause riots at shows. Last track, Everything All The Way Up seems to have a bit of that emo influence too, with some start-stop riffs and wiry guitar leads trading with power chords back and forth. It's got a real solid hook to it too, and even though it's only 2:33 (second longest song on the album) it feels pretty big, definitely en effective closer.

So basically, whenever someone tells me about a new pop-punk band, this is what I imagine they will sound like, and they almost never do. This album is very very solid, more edge to it than somewhat similar newer indie-pop-punk stuff which I definitely appreciate. I'm gonna spam all my friends' walls with links to this bandcamp now, so I guess we'll call this first round a success.

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