We’ve all had that feeling of “wow! They look nothing like I imagined” based on how someone sounds. Typically it comes in the form of realizing that magical voice in the radio is a balding middle aged man that would strike fear into you and have you locking your car door if he were to walk across an intersection in front of you.
Well in music, the most famous is probably Rick Astley, but it happens more often than you’d think. Like Taylor Swift being a robot or Nickleback actually being a group of chicks that smoked one too many packs while holding an unhealthy passion for repetition. Or take, for instance, Boston’s Slowdim.
Though they’re not shockingly hideous nor do they possess some National Enquirer-like controversy, they do drive home the aforementioned form of shock. You see, the “Na, Na Na NA NA NA NA! NA NA NA NA, HEY JUDE!” influenced (as taken from their Facebook page) foursome made up of Paul Sentz, Karina DaCosta, James Zaner and Eric Ryrie will instantly feel like a mass of musicians running around tweaking knobs and strumming at strings; but it is in fact, just these four. And I will be the first to admit I was shocked to find such a massive sound come from just four people.
Slowdim’s self-titled release feels strangely familiar, in the sense of Longwave or The Stills recreating the warmth and comfort of 90s alt rock, but rides strong on a modern wave; one which they could very much fuel on their own.
The twelve track album opens with a bright pop rock sensation in “Up Stream” and “Wishing Well” before it firmly, and might I add powerfully, plants its foot on “Uh Oh.” From then on, you’ll struggle to explain why Slowdim is not touring the world as a musical power. Their presence is incredible and their listenability is the top of the game. With really no other explanation, DaCosta, Sentz, Zaner and Ryrie play independent music hardball and win; BIG TIME.
Even though Slowdim possesses the presence of a twelve person band, these four fine folks from New England handle their melodic alt-rock sound like pros. They are identifiable, fun as hell to listen to and strike a chord of passion instantly. Obviously taking time and care with the release of Slowdim and rolling the dice on a twelve track record, their sound becomes huge and vibrant; and you’ll beg to be consumed by it. I have.
We all have that friend, the one who decides in the middle of a party that “you have hear this band” and becomes the de facto DJ for one to three songs before being shooed away with a broomstick. Yeah, I was that friend. I have taken painstaking measures to cull that trait and keep it at bay. And then I heard Slowdim. Now I want to grab everyone by the shoulders and tell them to listen to this band, which from what I’ve gathered living in Austin, is pretty normal behavior.
Maybe it is the pop-rock. Maybe it is that the dream of 90s is alive in Portland and Boston. Maybe it is that it is summer and my New England roots love a band from Boston that knows how to write an album that begs to be listened to with the car windows rolled down. Whatever it is, Slowdim’s self-titled debut makes me want to share it with the world, but you only get one earbud, because I want to listen too.
The quartet blasts out power-pop bubbling with sweetness right from the jump in “Up Stream,” “Wishing Well,” and “Tallest Trees.” Then the band hits an expansive sound beyond their numbers in “Uh Oh,” “Don’t Cough Me Out,” and “Birds,” complete with echoed reverb and Eric Ryrie’s grungy guitar solos. Paul Sentz’ bright vocals are all post-punk and Ana Karina DaCosta serves up some great harmonies on each track while accompanying on bass guitar. James Zaner contributes to the vast sound with crashing cymbals, sonorous toms, and clever fills.
There are times that 90s-style riffs make Slowdim sound like they should have been headlining at the Avalon instead of Letters To Cleo or Buffalo Tom. And while I have a lot of reservations against 90s rock, this band takes a lot of the best qualities and puts them to good use. Some stuff just works, and some bands get how to make it work.
So yeah, I think it is safe to say that not only is this record on the short list of my top discoveries of the year, but one that I want to yell from the rooftops. Want to get a really fun summer album to rock out to? Head on over to Slowdim’s bandcamp page and support some great local rock.
Don’t force me to be that friend.