Slim Century isn’t so much a follow-up to The Canoes great first record, Roger, as it is a declaration that they are prepared to take what is rightfully theirs. From the opening seconds of the youth anthem “Drinking Underage” to the sad lament of the closing “The Ballad Of Kid Canoe,” the band is planting a flag in their rock and roll territory and ready to take on any doubters.
I think Slim Century is an improvement on Roger in almost every way. The biggest change is that Roger felt very much slapped together by kids messing around. It works to their advantage mostly, but the new record sounds like they really took some time and thought about the songs before they recorded them. Slim Century loses some of the urgency that made Roger such a fun record, but it more than makes up for it with more polished vocals and powerful guitar riffs.
One thing that remains the same from record to record is The Canoes interest in politics and human interaction. They write very compelling songs that cover a lot of topics, but some of the best are the very personal songs like “Kid Brother.” It has a very familiar piano opening, and the delivery of the lines is very reminiscent of an Ike Reilly song. However, Elliot Teller’s singing of the words is like a constant tug on the heart strings.
“Well tell your friends you’re getting laid, tell em that you’re gettin’ paid, never tell me something I don’t wanna hear. Jim was born with half a brain and mom will never be the same. After ’97 she drank so much beer.”
My favorite song on the record is “Voting Man.” It’s got a quick reference to Neutral Milk Hotel at the top, and then goes on to be a great tune that follows a more country western structure. I love the opening verse:
“Well the angry man he said to me, when I was only three, that secretly I was Woody Guthrie. And I should sing songs of libert,y about how things used to be-the economy and those shitheads in the government.”
I also really dig “Big Sunglasses,” which is a very different song for the band. It’s got some punk surf rock beneath it, but really it’s a song about a girl. The Canoes don’t do a lot of straight forward numbers, so this was a nice change. It also features some lovely backup vocals.
If you haven’t heard The Canoes yet, the time is now. They have all the talent and potential in the world, so if they keep at it I have no doubt that they will be huge. Both of their albums are available on Bandcamp. If you get the opportunity, you should really see them live. They put on a great show every time out (I’ve seen them four or five times now and thought they were all great).