The Slip, a Boston trio known for their enthralling live act, turn in their jazz hats for radio-rock caps on their first album for their new label, Bar/None Records. As a result, fortune has certainly been shining on the band lately, winning "Best Live Act" at the Boston Music Awards and Guitar Hero featuring their upcoming track, "Even Rats". They’re also touring the nation, starting in the West with The Lovely Feathers, and eventually finishing in the East opening for My Morning Jacket. Jim James has even said they were "taking what we know of music and trying to twist it to a different place." Eisenhower isn’t a sell-out album, it’s a bust-out album, and these eccentric anthems will surely turn The Slip around the corner on their alt-jazz past to better things.
With a smooth rock panache, The Slip feel like a normal, radio-friendly rock band on the surface, but any deeper, it’s obvious that there’s much more going on. Their production is the key that turns the lock. Eisenhower was pieced together by the band themselves along with Matthew Ellard and Drew Malamud, who between them, have worked with Wilco, Metric, and the late Elliot Smith. The way their anthem "Even Rats" starts out with sliding, blipping guitars and pattering, metallic drums before diving into the slower, stadium-core riffs is an example of how both accessible and atypical the album is.
There’s an array of drum experimentation on Eisenhower, such as on "Airplane/Primitive", where the beat seems to careen over itself on a loop. Andrew Barr’s rhythms are the foundation of the rest of The Slip’s "primal energy" – typically a frenetic trip-rock pace that makes any guitar effects sound more intelligent. "The Soft Machine" is built on in-between half-beats that turn the song into a higher energy, more-compelling lap around the alternative pool. Drums aren’t the only instrument being developed from their old sound, though.
Uncommon guitar arrangements make up about a hundred of The Slip’s multi-faceted sound. "Life In Disguise" is a jumbled acoustic track with cardboard box drums, but the melody steals the show like something the Goo Goo Dolls would do if they were actually cool. The synthesizer in "Mothwing Bite" plays off the alt-country pace smoothly and the vocals comfort before the distorted solo kicks in. There are plenty of eccentric moments like this throughout Eisenhower.
While The Slip’s jazzy sound was often ignored before, Eisenhower should change that, and with touring, spotlight the trio’s abilities to transform modern rock into something beyond. It’s obviously already gotten them a lot of attention, which is well-founded, and if Jim James thinks it rocks, c’mon, so should you.