The Slip with Apollo Sunshine :: 12.30.05 :: Southpaw :: Brooklyn, NY

Disoriented from a subway ride from Manhattan and confused wandering on the Brooklyn streets, I stood in the glacial line outside. Happy pandemonium leaked through the club walls. As I passed the gatekeeper inside, a pedal steel player urged form from chaos, birthing a shining ivory pop thing I later learned was called "The Egg." Way to juggle the raw materials of creation!

Apollo Sunshine
Folks I trust had been telling me to check out Apollo Sunshine, and it wasn't two songs in before I knew they had me. Their sound bears the influence of the Flaming Lips, Ween, and Galaxie 500 but avoids their ennui and smirking post-modernism. Their brand of Sunshine is a bit more like Radiohead's first couple releases. They're noisy and catchy - a bewitching, shattering clangor that busts through the usual definitions of pop music.

As their opening set progressed, they stripped off layers of clothes like a thrift store version of Cher. Look away and you might not recognize the same person a minute later. This move fit their generally kinetic demeanor. More than a few folks ran, not walked, to the merch table after their set to pick up their new eponymous release on Spin Art, which nicely extends the powerful vibe of their live presence.

The Slip :: 12.30 :: Brooklyn
By Jon Bahr
The Slip is a sweaty, heavy-breathing animal that claws at you from minute one. Like most of my favorite bands, they never come on the same way twice. In Brooklyn, the trio further delved into the pop territory they've been exploring with Surprise Me Mr. Davis. Those who first discovered Brad Barr (vocals, guitar), Marc Friedman (bass, vocals), and Andrew Barr (percussion) in their exploratory jazz-minded early days will likely not recognize them today. There's a palpable desire to be heard of late that's pushed them into somewhat more conventional forms. Thankfully, in their capable hands these forms become resplendent. The simple sentiments of "Poor Boy" remind us of rock's phoenix-like gift for renewal when coaxed and courted by hyper-talented lads like these. Even without their Mr. Davis foil Nathan Moore, who admittedly was missed, the song still shimmered with direct, intentful drive.

There are always a few elements that catch you off guard with this band. This night it was the smooth integration of a drum machine (an antique beatbox purchased at a yard sale in Canada) and the New Order-ish segues between a few songs. So boundless is their imagination that all things are fair game. Even as they streamline their sound for greater market penetration, The Slip remains engaged and curious in a way few can compete with. It's near impossible to not be swept up by their music, especially "Even Rats," which climbed like perfumed smoke towards the heavens. This song may be familiar to video game folks due to its inclusion on the crazy popular Playstation 2 game Guitar Hero, whose designer is a longtime Slip fan and recognized the air guitar potential of this soaring tune.

Appearances like this speak to the growing accessibility of their music. I've said several times lately that they are one song on the hip youth-oriented television show The O.C. away from breaking big. Listening to the Brooklyn crowd belt out, "I hate love!" with goofy grins, I was more convinced than ever that The Slip have the potential to grow beyond their long toiling in the trenches. And what a nice surprise for the kids that find them through a TV soundtrack to discover the country fantasias and pummeling Velvet Underground-style heat they generate live. If mainstream music can be saved, The Slip may well have a hand in it. If we're lucky, that is.

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