Slow Cooker - Do a Kickflip - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Slow Cooker - Do a Kickflip

by Nathan McKinney Rating:7 Release Date:2019-05-11
Slow Cooker - Do a Kickflip
Slow Cooker - Do a Kickflip

Opening acts have the potential to make or break a live show. You’ve moseyed into your local venue to see the headliner. Arriving early, you order your first IPA, possibly settling into a dark corner, or if you’re more enthusiastic, you might plant yourself front and center as the-band-before-the-band is doing their mic and sound checks. Perhaps you gave yourself a sneak peek of their sound that morning and decided to get there early, or maybe you just like to be surprised. You did pay 15 bucks for two bands after all, and the night is young. There’s anticipation and curiosity in the air. You are equally prepared to be pleasantly surprised or royally disappointed. Will this unknown band worthily grace the stage and do the headliner justice? At least they’ll be loud, right?

The opening act experience is apt here primarily because it’s hard to imagine hearing the content of this record any other way. At 35 minutes, “Do a Kickflip” by Buffalo natives Slow Cooker provides just the right amount of content for an opener, especially considering 3 of these tracks already appeared on a Bandcamp EP back in 2016. By all appearances, the studio version of these tracks appears to just be a live recording without the audience. It’s a no-frills outing with a muddy studio mix that only adds to the live ambiance. Every track displays a raw, sweaty energy that only gets better as you progress.

From the opening track, “Fix It", the vocals by Ian McCrohan are an immediate standout. There’s a passive aggressive irony in his vocal style that seems to be borrowed directly from his punk vocal forebears like Mark E. Smith or Colin Newman. After a rollicking start, McCrohan slows down the tempo to plead, "Whoever makes it fast, just makes it faster”. It’s the first sign that Slow Cooker has more up its sleeve than kicking ass and taking names. The band itself, despite all the testosterone, sounds more like early Sleater Kinney.

Throughout the first half of the record, things get a bit repetitive. After hearing “Money”, and “Salt and Vinegar” a pattern begins to emerge of short songs that quickly dissolve into high energy shouting and bellowing for their own sake. Energy isn’t uncharacteristic for a punk-garage act, but by the time “Bird Flu” arrives and starts directly with more bellowing, one could be forgiven for wondering if they heard this track already. It’s about this point in watching an opening act that you’re wondering if there’s more to this band, or if you would’ve been better off adding dessert to your pre-gig feast. Fortunately, Slow Cooker provides more to chew on as they push into the second half.

“Sweatpants”, disrupts the high energy repetitiveness with a comparatively quiet breakdown. The lyrics "I’m not a seagull, I’m not a seal”, read somewhere between protest and contemplation. "Tub Apple" similarly drops the energy at the halfway mark in favor of a dirge as Ian belts “In the middle of nowhere”, before finishing up on an energetic note again. By the time “Drug yard" arrives with its swaying pop sound, including singalong “oohs” and the tinking of bells to punctuate its beachy vibe, Slow Cooker has more than justified your early arrival.

“Show Yer Teeth” is the track you cue up for friends the next day to show them what they missed out on. It’s a perfect blend of energy and angst that shows the band at their current best. With a cleaner sound, and the vocals pushed more to the forefront — “Sleep at night, sleep at night, whatever seems to help you sleep at night.” — “Show Yer Teeth" could be mistaken for a strong offering by Slow Cooker's peers, Ought.

Finally, after a couple of quick barn-burners that might belong with the first half of the record, “Worms” winds things down and finishes off with more oohs. A perfect way to end a set allowing all to sing along.

While “Do a Kickflip” is far from perfect, it does its job. Perhaps the sequencing is to blame for the early tedium, but the more approachable tracks ably make it worth a spin. It’s a one record evolution from generic garage punk upstarts, to a band gaining confidence in their own sound. If Slow Cooker continues that trajectory, its next outing will be one worth looking forward to. By that point, I’ll be happy to see them as the headliner.

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