A Journal Of The Dark Arts
All The Channels In Between, from the Long Island, NY group The Slack Tide‘s origins lie in the powerless times following Hurricane Sandy, two years ago. While sensible people were evacuating, The Slack Tide took refuge at a shelter in Manhattan. The shelter lost power, and the band lived off of warm beer and tequila, and jammed. These jam sessions would be the genesis of the 7 songs that make up ATCIB.
You might assume that this would result in a flurry of drunken excess, but The Slack Tide are serious about their music, even while inebriated and waiting out a hurricane, as this album is tight and focused, full of all kinds of interesting songwriting ideas.
The Slack Tide have been described as a “love child between Jack White and The Black Keys, going on to form a Sublime cover band.” And while i have enjoyed all of those bands at times, this is not the highest possible recommendation for those ears. It seems to be difficult to do something interesting in the world of blues rock ‘n roll.
As such, i was geared up to judge harshly, as this has not been my bag too much lately, and my first couple of visitations reflected that attitude. The music seemed brash and loud, crying out for attention. But i always go deeper, trying to figure out who the artists are, as well as their audience, to best deduce whether an album succeeds or plummets, on its own terms.
I cooled my critical bootheels; i mellow out, and took another listen, and found a number of good things about this music.
First, and most importantly, for me; i dig the riffs! Super catchy and energetic riffs are often doubled between instruments, either just guitars, or sometimes on organ or bass, which gives the rough ‘n ready White Stripes blues rawk a hint of fuzzy stoner intensity; a very necessary pinch of The Melvins or Kyuss, to prevent this from merely being radio rock. The presence of unison riffs always indicates a band that know their shit, have spent their time refining their craft, tooling and re-tooling their songs until they’re a parfait of awesomeness!
Good examples of this are the songs “Bedpost”, which starts off as some Ben Folds/Elton John piano pop, before breaking into a singalong unison groove. Or the crunchy, crushing soul vibes of “Schoolyard Brawl”, my particular favorite track, well worth the price of admissions. Fluid blues lines meet a skiffle drumbeat and some nearly industrial sounds at the beginning.
All right, i judged harshly, and hastily. I should refrain from making opinions about people’s bands when i’ve been sick and haven’t eaten in two days.
The Slack Tide seem like they want to have a good time, to inject some positivity into the world, in the form of catchy sunshiny guitar riffs, which is something the world needs.
All the hardships have led to The Slack Tide taking their music more seriously, after experiencing a moving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, right after Hurricane Sandy. The band were moved by the collective kindness of their home, and wanted to make positive music, to reflect that.
Not careerist, or bandwagon hopping, after all.
All The Channels In Between seems like a good promo to check out The Slack Tide live, where they are known for laid-back and impromptu performances, frequently bringing audience members on stage and hold singalongs. There’s not too much in the way of post-production, although the riffs are occasionally swathed in bits of atmospheric electronics, courtesy of keyboardist Dave Lynch (not the director, as far as i know, although he is a musician.)
Rory Thompson’s vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, somewhere in the orbit of Andy from Mouse Rat. Like Mouse Rat, The Slack Tide excel because of their lack of pretentiousness and positivity – striving merely to be awesome, devoid of pretense.
And that’s what it takes.
So here’s to music made by humans, and here’s to not judging based on the flavor of the moment, or even yr own prejudices. Records are a piece of someone’s soul, a time of their lives, and even the glossiest pop production has an atom of holiness.
Let’s never forget it. Let’s never become jaded. Thanks to The Slack Tide for reminding me.
The Slack Tide, if yr reading, best of luck in all yr endeavors, and keep churning out those crunchy, fuzzy riffs.