It’s been a couple years since I was singing the praises of Slothrust’s debut, Of Course You Do. That grungy instant classic ended up in my top 10 of 2014, and the band’s latest release is looking to repeat or better that offering. Everyone Else improves in almost every conceivable way over Of Course You Do.
Leah Wellbaum’s guitar sounds better, the lyrics are better, the overall sound of the album is more cohesive and accessible to virgin ears-literally every facet of Everyone Else seems to be prepared in order to launch the band into the mainstream. That’s a shame and a blessing for music fans. Most of what gets written and talked about amongst blogs, major publications, newspapers (eek!) sounds the same to me. Hopefully I’m not alone, because if you’re down for something new Slothrust is going to be right up your alley.
I was introduced to the band through a random email from Bada Bing Records. I’d never received anything from them before, but I’ve never been more thankful for a correspondence that may have been sent to me by mistake. I instantly loved the record and caught the band live at Township, which was awesome (especially considering their next show in Chicago, Nov 19th is at the much larger Bottom Lounge). It’s been a long wait for something new from the band, as Wellbaum kept busy with other artistic endeavours, and October 27th Everyone Else will be available for all to hear.
A couple singles have already been released to get you excited. None of them are my favorite from the record, but of the ones out there for you to hear now, I have to say “Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone” is the one you need to check out.
After an instrumental opening that sounds like a sunny California day as viewed by the goth kids from South Park, “Child” throws you right into the dark world that Wellbaum’s lyrics inhabit. There’s a jaunty guitar riff and bouncy bass line that makes the song sound a bit more cheery than it actually is. And the solo that she slaughters halfway through the song absolutely destroys any assumptions you might have about where the song is going to go.
There are a lot of lyrics on the album about water-sea creatures, drowning in it, birth…It’s a fixation that comes in and out, holding the record together like a strong foundation. “I think my face looks like glass, but my body feels plastic-melt me into a bottle. I wish that I was a baby, sucking on myself. Boogie down to the water, I thought that maybe I could be the lake’s daughter. Because I float like an infant inside of it. Weightless in the lake-it’s got nothing to take from me.”
“Rotten Pumpkin” gets a little closer to the sound on their first record, just a bit more polished. It’s loud and fast without taking away from the feeling of pain and despair. “Horseshoe Crab,” a single from the album like the other two songs mentioned so far, is a slower song that allows Wellbaum to stretch her vocal range. At over 5 minutes, it goes on a bit longer than other tracks, but remains one of the better ones. The guitar work here, that swirls around Wellbaum’s voice through the bridge to great effect, is not something all bands can pull off well, but Slothrust nail the balance between too much and just enough added production.
My favorite song comes all the way at the end with “Pigpen.” It’s far too short for my liking, but it’s too good to not mention. It sounds like a front porch version of a RHCP song, with it’s nimbly plucked strings that feel a bit pushed back so they don’t stand out too much. Wellbaum sings “You’ve got an open mouth, and I have got an open wound. Wanna suck the poison out. Will you suck the poison out? And I would spread my wings, if they weren’t so goddam heavy. Yeah I would spread my wings, if they weren’t coated in honey.”
The song ends the album on a disturbingly upbeat tick. Everyone Else contains a lot of darkness, but there’s a steady optimism that things must improve-maybe not now, but someday.
You can pre-order the album on vinyl (or CD?) if you’d like right here. That link will also allow you to see tour dates, which started today and will be making their way across some of the south, the eastern seaboard, and the midwest through November 19th.