Pick Your Favorite: Slomo Drags Make a Masterful Debut with a Four Song EP

Slomo Drags

by Nick Hanover

I’m an unabashed fan of two chord punk, of Mark E. Smith’s Three R’s: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. I’m also a fan of queso, but I’m equally a fan of staying relatively healthy, which is why my diet doesn’t exclusively revolve around either of these things. Enter the sonic palette cleanser that is Slomo Drags, a relatively new Austin group that has the rare ability to make complicated structures and arrangements sound fun as fuck.

The band’s four song debut EP misleadingly begins with a repetitive, atmospheric dirge before a choir of wordless oohs and a tom roll build-up unveils the power pop bliss that’s actually at the heart of “Every Actor” and, by extent, the EP on the whole. A never-ending buffet of riffs, melodic hooks and twisty wordplay (“Some genius Jesus/Nailed to a typewriter“), Slomo Drags happily stand out from the folk and psych rock dominating the Austin scene at the moment in favour of the Pacific Northwest twist on power pop favoured by the likes of the Posies and their offshoots the Minus 5. Jonas Wilson’s production functions as Slomo Drags’ not-so-secret weapon here, enabling each new sonic twist to stand out in perfect clarity, the guitar leads and oohs shimmering in their intensity.

“Pick Your Favorite!” adds a crunchy filter to the opening vocal, giving the falsetto an edge, a sexy call from a slightly broken phone that teases out the funky stomp the song features up until its middle mark, when it unleashes a breakdown that Of Montreal would happily pillage given the chance. Though the vocals and guitars are front and centre, it’s the rhythm section that gives “Pick Your Favorite!” its addictive thrust, the drums and bass locked into a bump and grind that the other elements showcase every time they drop out for a beat.

“Pick Your Favorite!” is succeeded by “Swimming Pools,” a drowsier affair that recalls elements of White Rabbits and the sorely underrated Beulah in equal measure. Here the drums are shackled and muddied, thrown to the background while the bass drops in and out as the guitars swell behind the lead vocal. The sonics can’t help but imitate the fluidity of the song’s subject, ultimately building to a sea shanty rhythm, the drums shifting from a tom heavy beat to splashing cymbals and bursts of snare as the band declares “California has come to an end/Sleeping in a swimming pool.” Apocalypse by leisure, armageddon with floaties.

The EP closes out with a bit of orchestral rock in the form of “Any Different?” a track that juxtaposes pretty piano interludes with sluggish guitars and a throbbing bass that could have been dialled in from a lost Sparks session. There’s a confident swagger to the song that has been entirely earned by what preceded it, the assured, triumphant victory lap of a band that knows it has just given you some excellent performances and now it would like to partake in some big rock riffs, thank you very much. In the live setting, this would be where the guitarist slides out to centre stage and melts some faces. Mark E. Smith wouldn’t approve, but even he can’t be right all the time.

Slomo Drags are playing Spiderhouse Ballroom this Sunday, June 15th with the Hawks (of Holy Rosary) and Burgess Meredith