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Album review: The Sluts - The Sluts

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
LFK darlings The Sluts’ self-titled second album is just what the doctor ordered. Assuming, of course, that you’re in need of a dose of brash, fuzzy, garage rock, most potent when chased with a shot of bourbon and some cheap yard beers. And let’s face it, you probably are.
 
The Sluts’ eleven tracks—four of which (“Let Me Go,” “Loser,” “Green,” and “Linger”) were previously released on last year’s The Loser EP (here’s our review of that)—are for the most part quite one-dimensional. This isn’t a bad thing. Ryan Wise (guitar and vocals) and Kristoffer Dover (drums) are not trying to overthink their craft, but instead are content to give listeners fun, mostly up-tempo ball-busters, lasting under three minutes.
 
The songs are a unique blend of early grunge and edgy punk. Think of Mudhoney joining forces with The Stooges. Wise’s slightly whiny, reverb-laced vocals are nearly as distorted as his chunky, drop-tuned guitar, and Dover’s relentless sonic booming is filled with crash cymbals. The result is a much larger sound than one might expect from just a two-piece band, although I would be interested to hear the added depth that a bass guitar might bring.
 
Three songs showcase Wise and Dover at their best. The crunchy “Green” is reminiscent of Alice in Chains, both vocally and musically. Dover’s tom rolls give it a defined groove, and set it apart from many other tunes on the album. “Be With You” is a fast, driving love song with interesting rhythm variations and guitar like a machine gun. The highlight of The Sluts is “Linger,” which begins with a catchy surf-like guitar hook, and becomes a thrashing, angst-ridden anthem. The use of fuller chords and incessant drumming allows it to have as much breadth as two instruments are capable of providing.
 
The album’s final track, “Simple Song,” is the only truly slow song of the bunch. At first it seems a bit out of place among the other ten turbulent tunes. However, there is a good reason for it to be included. It informs the listener that the thrill ride has come to an end, and that it’s okay to take a deep breath and relax. It’s like a much-needed lullaby being sung to a rambunctious, yet exhausted, child.
 
If you’re in need of some background music for resting, studying or a candle-lit dinner, you should probably avoid this album. If you are leaving work on a Friday, and are ready to roll down the windows and get mentally prepared for the weekend, by all means crank it up. The Sluts isn’t high art or even hi-fi. It’s rock & roll, baby.
 
Catch The Sluts tonight at a free in-store performance at Mills Record Company! Show starts at 7:00 pm.
 
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.
 

 

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Album review: The Sluts - Loser (EP)

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Lawrence, Kansas (affectionately to be referred to henceforth as LFK) continues to be a source of the kinds of music that I want to hear more of and know more about. One band in particular has really caught my ear of late with a sound that’s raw, dirty, energetic, and undeniably attention-grabbing: The Sluts, a bare-bones twosome consisting of Kristoffer Dover on drums and Ryan Wise on guitar and vocals. Two musicians, no more, no less … but as the sounds you’ll hear on their new EP Loser will demonstrate, two musicians is plenty when it comes to making a substantial sonic statement.
 
Their mix of garage, punk, and grunge kicks things off with the opener, “Let Me Go,” as The Sluts tear things up with a grimy bounce firmly entrenched in 4/4 time. “Loser” starts with a tip of the cap to upbeat new wavey rhythms, but 25 seconds into the track, the boys re-establish the power presence that is their raison d’etre (how’s THAT for some damn NPR-speak, kids?). “Green” and “Linger” wrap up the four-track, barely-more-than-ten-minute EP with the sound that I’ve most commonly described as “Nirvana without Krist Novoselic,” as Wise’s sneering vocals and snarling guitar combined with Dover’s relentlessly on-point percussion give the music just a bit of Bleach-era homage while sounding very much of the present day.
 
I had the honor of introducing The Sluts during this year’s Midcoast Takeover at SXSW; they were on the roster of the I Heart Local Music / Whatever Forever day-party that featured more examples of LFK’s finest (Black on Black, Shy Boys, Josh Berwanger Band, and Oils/CS Luxem). After a couple long days of music and food truck fare and drinking, the abrasive grind of The Sluts was a much-needed Brillo pad to the brain. Give Loser a listen, and keep an eye out for this band.
 
Love me some dirty, filthy, nasty The Sluts. Awwww yeahhhhhh.
 
-Michael Byars
 

Michael can use the phrase “raison d’etre” in the same review as the phrase “awwww yeahhhhh,” because that’s how he rolls. 

 

 

 

 
Editor’s note: Loser was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Joel Nanos at Element Recording. Photos taken at Element by Todd Zimmer.
 
 

Catch The Sluts this Friday at Liberty Hall; they’ll be playing #ASSJAMZ: Bands That Will Make You Dance, along with Approach, Paper Buffalo, and Spencer Brown. Show starts at 8 pm. Facebook event page. If you’re in KC, see them this Sunday at Vandals. They’ll be joined by fellow LFKers Mr. and the Mrs., Mannequin Pussy (NYC), and KC’s Anson the Ornery. Facebook event page. 

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Album review: The Sluts - Virile

Why am I sitting in my office at 6 a.m. listening to a band named The Sluts? Perhaps it’s insomnia; it could be that it’s tough to sleep through a dream about the Three Stooges playing badminton with Presidents Taft, Reagan, and Taylor. Maybe it was my damned barking dog. But mostly, the band’s name drew me from my bed at this ungodly hour, and to the music. What self-respecting rock fan could possibly avoid a band named The Sluts? It should draw you like a magnet to a pile of metal shavings and rusty razor blades, It is unavoidable. Did I mention this two-piece from Lawrence is named The Sluts? The Sluts, I say! The Sluts!!!
 
The music on the band’s release Virile is rock ‘n roll, plain and simple. Finally, the tide may be changing, shifting back toward guitars and volume. Is electronic music finally ready to shoot itself in the head, to make room for the glory that is rock ‘n roll? It sure as fuck sounds like it. “Flip the Tape Over,” the album’s opener, blasts out of the gate like a fire-breathing dinosaur from a time when music was released on tapes before it was cool and ironic to release new music on cassettes. It is a strange collision of Mudhoney-like power and a Bruce Springsteen story; a song that, on paper, must’ve been a mess but on tape is incredible, firing on all cylinders.
 
It is clear The Sluts (Kristoffer Dover and Ryan Wise) worship at the altar of grunge. There are flashes of the movement and her greatest acts are slathered all over Virile: Tad, The Fastbacks, The Fluid, Nirvana (especially on “My Hour,” a track reminiscent of “Return of the Rat,” a Wipers’ tune later covered with love by Nirvana), Green River, The Gits, a pre-fame Soundgarden, The U-Men, they are all here. However, do not get me wrong, there is something else, something lurking below the slime. The Sluts are not simply a band regurgitating their influences. They are a band acknowledging what came before and deconstructing it. Isn’t that what rock ‘n roll should do? What it’s meant for? Worshipping your heroes while simultaneously blowing them up into a billion pieces? The Sluts do that in spades.
 
“I Want You To Die” is a stomp that reminds me of Joan Jett’s “Do You Want To Touch Me?” except instead of talking about sex, it’s “it’s not like I hate you girl / I just want you to die.” Obviously this guy has issues. “Loose” is a power-driven ass shaker, “Misdemeanor” opens “Hey Mom and Dad / I got picked up last night” then rips into garage punk at its finest.
 
The dark “Friends” has a Tad Doyle licked guitar pushing a song about a guy whose friends have all quit smoking, quit drinking; it’s about the fears of growing up and growing old. Again, it is The Sluts tapping a vein and drinking deep of the rock n roll monster. Moreover “Victim,” the closer, is a turn-it-up middle finger to all those who were never there to save us from ourselves.
 
There must be something in the water in Lawrence. Over the last couple of years, great rock bands have been popping up left and right. The Sluts, Black on Black, Mr. and the Mrs., Stiff Middle Fingers—all of these bands have pushed aside the banjo wielding masses, let their freak flags fly and insist that rock ‘n roll will not be allowed to die a slow, boring amplifier free death.
 

The Sluts’ Virile is a work that was made by and for people who love rock n roll. Goddamn, I’m so happy I couldn’t sleep this morning.

--Danny R. Phillips

Danny R. Phillips has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others

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