Slug are the latest band to come from Sunderland’s thriving music scene. They are the brainchild of Ian Black who earned his stripes as a touring member of fellow mackems, Field Music. The ideas for the music on debut album, Ripe come from the deepest recesses of Black’s mind combining many disparate genres such as stoner metal and dub and influenced by work of John Bonham, James Brown, Claudio Simonetti and Fabio Pignatelli to create some sort of melodic cosmic indie prog. There's a Talking Heads vibe to it all as well. Peter and David Brewis of Field Music play on the album as well as producing it at their own recording studio. Slug have long been a favourite of 6 Music's Marc Riley. This will definitely appeal to fans of Field Music.
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Sunderland. Funny place isn't it?. The centre resembles an out of town shopping mall which has been plonked in the middle of the city. Its inside is its outside and its outside is its inside.... which is perhaps why so much lop-sided music seems to emanate from the place.
Slug are the latest batch of new wavers. Lead Slug Ian Black was a touring member of Field Music and their influence is everywhere on this impressive debut. It’s a little bit more powerful than Field Music whose music often favours technicality over passion but the prog-influenced song structures, staccato rhythms and complex time signatures remain. I’ve always suspected that Field Music must have spent their youth worshipping 10cc records and I’m in no doubt they’ve passed their knowledge onto Slug. ‘Eggs and Eyes’ nicely compliments this intelligent ‘70’s song-smithery with the slightly more hard edges you might find on early XTC or Split Enz records.
They don’t forget to bring a hook or two along to the party, ‘Shake Your Loose Teeth’ emerges from its indie funk with a simple if stellar chorus which sticks nicely in the craw. A cursory flick through the tracks though and its hard to find much that wouldn’t have fitted nicely onto Field Music’s ‘Plumb’. It’s good stuff, it sounds like Field Music but there’s worse people to want to emulate. All hail the ‘Sunderland sound’.
8/10 Pingwing 8th May 2015
A weird, almost Dadaist deconstruction of pop music, Ripe is an album packed with tunes that’ll most likely leave you baffled but, at the same time, unable to stop yourself from dancing. Lyrically, it all feels a bit Dr Seuss but, when everything else is so endlessly captivating, it's easy to overlook. It’s an album that manages to engage every part of your music-listening brain at once, wholly unafraid to try something different and to throw something new in your face.
It really is an odd beast; one that, in theory, really shouldn’t work but, thanks to the magic hands of Black and the Brewis brothers on production, somehow manages to slot together to create a beautifully surreal album full of wailing guitar solos next to bongos and squelchy basslines next to steel drums. Ripe, and SLUG as a whole, are proof that you need to keep your eyes and ears to the North East - there’s something magic in the musical waters there. TLOBF
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