If a tree fell in the woods and no one was there to hear it, would it still make a noise? If The Slip recorded a modern rock masterpiece, would the world hear it?
Eisenhower, The Slip's fourth full-length, is a masterpiece. It's a vision fully realized. It's the culmination of three gifted men working their entire lives to find their voice. But will it be heard?
Growing up on stage and developing (musically and otherwise) on the road has led The Slip to be viewed by many as a "jamband." When The Slip released From The Gecko in 1997, calling them a jamband was accurate. Nine years later, entering their thirties, embracing pop, and experiencing the pain of what it means to come of age now, The Slip is not a jamband. Jambands don't make records like Eisenhower. In fact, The Slip has come so far that many older fans accuse them of "changing everything but their name," an accusation in which the band takes great pride. The question remains, will the music world pay attention? Will the tastemakers, hipsters, and radio stations listen to "Children of December," "Even Rats," and "Airplane Primitive" or will they assume they already know The Slip, when in fact no one does. This band is constantly changing, growing, evolving.
The first thing most folks will notice with Eisenhower is how good the album sounds. "We have one guy to thank, his name is Matthew Ellard," says singer/guitarist Brad Barr. Ellard, who has produced albums for Elliot Smith, Billy Bragg & Wilco, and Morphine to name a few, knew how to cull the strange noises that make The Slip so unique, and he was able to shape Brad's honest, exposed vocals into a range that is radio-ready without losing the emotion. With Ellard's expertise and the strongest batch of songs the band has penned, The Slip was ready to lay it on the line.
After more than ten years of driving around the country (and world), 1,000 shows, and too many sacrifices to list, The Slip was at a crossroads. How much longer do you tear your heart out on stage for little return? When does it become too much? Unable to answer these questions, The Slip knew they had to document their incredible growth and at the very least leave the world with their magnum opus. Eisenhower is make-or-break time.
The idea that The Slip may not make it is reflected in "Life In Disguise," the sleeper song on Eisenhower. Balancing acoustic guitars, female counter-points, and an absolutely beautiful, simple arrangement, "Life In Disguise" is capable of pulling tears from men and dropping them to one knee. Harnessing emotion has always been a strength of The Slip, and nowhere do we see this more clearly than on "If One Of Us Should Fall." One of the band's finest moments, this track is an instant classic. When a song cuts through to the most basic of emotions - love and loss, hopes and needs - it speaks to the world at large. Anyone who has ever felt true love will recognize these emotions in "If One Of Us Should Fall." It's brilliant and necessary.
Then there are the first two tracks, "Children Of December" and "Even Rats." Perhaps the strongest start to any album this year, "Children Of December" should be pouring over the radio as we speak. College coeds should be running through their dorms screaming the words. There are subtle politics, deep thoughts, and giant hooks. These two songs are what it sounds like to grow up in America circa 2006.
Mixing the powerful bombast of bands like the Secret Machines with the insightful content of Wilco, The Slip has created an album as good as anything that has been released this year. Let's just hope the world is listening.
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