I spend a lot of time searching for Austin bands that have a national sound – something that will resonate with enough people outside of our great city and state that the band could make the leap from local phenomenon to national success. Immediately, Good Field comes to mind as an example of this type of group that I recently reviewed. It’s refreshing, sometimes, to focus on the other side of this equation: there are bands that could only come from Central Texas. They take the country & western sounds that have long influenced this region, and mix them with some of the other types of music that have since entered the Capital City. For example, Whiskey Shivers mix bluegrass and Tejano on “Wapita Wapita,” or all of Shakey Graves’ catalogue. We can now add Slam Gibbons to the list.
Slam Gibbons is a country-rock group fronted by James Eldridge, whom we last featured almost exactly two years ago on this site for his slop-punk project James & the Douchebags. Eldridge’s songwriting chops and loose approach to music-making both stood out in endearing ways in that genre, and have translated nicely to sloppy country-rock as well. On their self-titled EP released in March, Slam Gibbons offer an unrefined set of songs that is more interesting than anything else, and keeps me intrigued for what might be coming next from Eldridge.Slam Gibbons - 'Whoopinest Family'
The playing on Slam Gibbons EP is sloppy. The mix is really rough. It sounds like, and this may actually be the case, that a bunch of friends set up one microphone in the middle of a room, grabbed a couple of bottles of whiskey, and decided to just record whatever happened. They often have a difficult time sticking to one genre, a stylistic tug-of-war best exemplified by “Whoopinest Family,” which features sudden flips between uptempo country swing and straight-ahead Southern Rock. Elsewhere, they sort of slide from side-to-side on the country-rock spectrum; “Don’t Leave Just Yet” adds a country flair to the pleading lyrics, while “Dixie Cups and Bubblegum” features a scorching rock lead guitar. The stylistic swings are easier to manage because there are some really good melodies on this record: “Don’t Leave Just Yet,” “Lost My Beer,” and “All My Exes (Are Leaving Texas),” to name just a few.
I’m not convinced that I’m going to return to this record a lot, but I’m glad it’s here. This is the kind of music that helps distinguish us from other hipster music meccas, like Portland, Brooklyn and Silver Lake. Slam Gibbons could only come from Austin, and their sound reflects the distinct experience that I, and many other creative twenty- and thirtysomethings, have in this beautiful city. Slam Gibbons will always make me think of drinking whiskey on the rocks at the White Horse, or some other hipster honky tonk. And for that, I thank them.
– Carter Delloro