There are a lot of bands out there in the world, you know? Just the sheer volume of them is absolutely astounding. And, every single one is trying to carve out its own little niche, trying to garner a little fanfare, trying to piece together a few good songs, and trying to, eventually, be very rich, and heard by millions. Now, there are quite a few bands that have actually accomplished this feat. Look no further than the cover of Rolling Stone, or Blender; and you’ll find some act that the media is just fawning over. And, sadly, for something to garner fanfare across the board, it usually has to be thinned down to a point. The quirkiness must often be shed for time-tested hooks, and introspective lyrics must be left only in the notebooks; to pave way for a catchy, easy to remember chorus. What we really need is some good music in the mainstream. Death Cab’s recent breakthrough success and the growing popularity of The Shins are doing some good; but there is still a lot of bad music out there that we as the listening public are forced to muddle through. And yes, there is a point to all of this.
More important than all that sad truth, I’m happy now to finally tell you about a band that has remained unaffected by all this, for lack of a better term, mainstream stupidity. I’m happy to say, that it seems like none of these pathetic traditions have found their way into the path of the members of Slow Runner. Pushing out through the hordes, this is a band that’s really worthy of attention. Ever since their debut album, No Disassemble, landed in my mailbox I have barely been able to turn it off. It’s some of the most compelling music I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear. It now lives happily in my iPod; where it will likely stay for quite a while.
Walking a tightrope so comfortably that it’s almost shocking, the sound seems to have come from a million influences, but it all still fits together so perfectly. I see remnants of The Beatles, the biting wit of Ben Folds, a pinch of the Postal Service, a whisk of Aqualung, a touch of Death Cab, and some nagging tidbit of Radiohead. That may sound a bit convoluted, but trust me: it works.
The band is fronted by singer-guitarist Michael Flynn, former finalist in a John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Competition (through which he had the opportunity to meet Yoko Ono). After this small uplift, and tiny foot into the music industry, Flynn soon hooked up with Josh Kaler in Boston. The two of them worked out the nuances of the Slow Runner sound, and wrote the songs that would eventually fill up No Disassemble. The rest of the cast rounded out, and Slow Runner was born.
For a debut album, they band shows a lot of maturity here. The vocals have a falsetto to them; which accents the Beck-ish type mix of electronic, guitar, et al quite well. There’s not really a weak track among the lot. The album opens appropriately, with a 44 second instrumental of sorts of quasi-electronica. This leads to the catchy wit of opening song “Break Your Mama’s Back.” The lyrical quality and musical style that is to follow for the remainder of the record is represented well in this track. Other highlights include the sparing track “The Sea Is Never Full,” and the jaunty “Redneck Bar.” “Don’t Let Them See Me Like This” is also another great addition to the lot; a slow-to-mid-tempo, echoing number that will linger in your mind long after you’ve heard it. The Death Cab For Cutie-esque “12.19.03” is also a heck of a song.
If Slow Runner takes the right path down the fickle road that is the music business, they very well could be poised to, someday, receive the passing of the mellow rock crown from Ben Gibbard & Co. I highly recommend you check out Slow Runner, this is one band that definitely deserves some mainstream attention.
(Red Ink / Red Music)