The Slip: Eisenhower

By Kayceman

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.

JamBase | San Francisco
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[Published on: 11/7/06]

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Andrew W. starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/7/2006 01:11PM
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Andrew W.

Top 3 of the year!

Tan starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/7/2006 01:22PM
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I love albums that make me want to hit the repeat button.

MaseBase starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/7/2006 03:37PM
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Unbelievable disc for sure. can't stop playing it. Epic production and i hope that it finally gives them the recognition they deserve.

daillest starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/7/2006 09:29PM
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I've been praying since the first time I saw The Slip 8 years ago that they would find real's time I start praying double time, because this album might be the most beautiful/powerful album I've heard in more than 8's time.

dogbeach starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/7/2006 10:04PM
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Fantastic from Start to finish. Let's hope these guys get the recognition they deserve. And let's see more left coast shows!

jalew starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/7/2006 11:29PM
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Obviously and unfortunately, this album will be extremely under-appreciated. That said, this album is yet another gift given to us, unconditionally, from these guys. I'm having trouble even trying to compose my opinion, my gratitude, my thoughts here. I can't even finish what i need to say here.


shainhouse starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/8/2006 02:36AM
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Brilliant album. I was hoping to review and give it the same acclaim... hehe. thanks aaron.

azieja starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/8/2006 06:41AM
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watching these guys evolve from the early days of "gecko" to today's "eisenhower" has been a joy to say the least. i enjoyed being selfish and was happy that their shows never hit really big venues, like they were a best kept secret. (the best part is that both their live performances AND their recorded albums continue to show gorwth--i rarely find that). but the world needs to hear this album. they deserve to be recognized by the masses.

dedhed6111 starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/8/2006 11:18AM
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Absolutely incredible review. The Slip's ability to harness emotion is, without doubt, unparalleled in today's musical scene. I have often wished that everyone I know could understand and feel the magic that the Slip have shown me, and maybe its finally time for that to happen. At the same time, the selfish part of me wants them to still be just MY Slip; but I hope in my heart of hearts that this launches them into the stratosphere where they belong. If it doesn't, the Slip have at least finally made the soundtrack to my life, and that means more than notoriety, money, or fame ever could.

NershiSquirt Wed 11/8/2006 02:04PM
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I saw these guys at Vinyl in LA during summer Phish tour a few years ago. HOLY SHIT! Everything I like to hear ! So talented....

NershiSquirt Wed 11/8/2006 02:29PM
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I saw these guys at Vinyl in LA during summer Phish tour a few years ago. HOLY SHIT! Everything I like to hear ! So talented....

Andrew W. starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/8/2006 04:10PM
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Andrew W.

I think it is up to all of the people who love the Slip's music and know what kind of recognition they deserve to tirelesly promote the band wherever you can. Buy 3 copies and give them to friends, call your radio station and request they be played and for gods sake go out and see them with 10 of your friends. That's the kind of appreciation we can show a band that has given us so much over the last 10 years...


mcmanust Wed 11/8/2006 06:21PM
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The album is great. I am curious to see what kind of reviews it gets from other publications (indie snobs). I've been listening to the album non-stop today and I have to say I think that it actually is one of the best albums I've heard this year. When I was listening to strictly jambands I bought "from gecko" and liked it very much but what a transition in song-writing. Its a play from start to finish.

samboard starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/9/2006 05:12AM
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back in high school, i called brad "squirrel" for various reasons. today, he is nutmaster. soon,(if not already) he will become tree.

peaton Thu 11/9/2006 06:52AM
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Yes, the Slip has changed. But I like to think of it as evolved instead. They are maintaining their jam credibility while attracting an entirely new audience. They are amazing talents I am proud to be from Boston because of their music. I hope this album finally gives them the respect and radioplay they deserve (as long as those emo kids dont get a hold of it). If you havent seen them live yet please do. Now is a great time to do it becasue chances are you will see My Morning Jacket aswell. Their use of digital looping creates a phenominal live sound and they always put on a good show. CHANGE IS GOOD!!!

gabus! starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/9/2006 03:40PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 11/9/2006 11:16PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

i've never seen a jambase message board in such unison like this before. while i admit that i haven't gotten around to listening to this album yet, a lot of you folks seem to have had a moment of clarity through it. weird shit. it's that good, huh?

jishman starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/10/2006 05:42AM
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Truly a great album -- brilliant by jamband studio standards. Paper Birds, the closing track, has been stuck in my head since I first played this disc. Go get Eisenhower!

thedude2004 starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/10/2006 07:35AM
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I first saw The Slip open for MMW in '97 and and have tracked them ever since, through their albums and live shows. Yes, everyone should accept that they have evolved; they are not the jazz-funk trio of yore. The songs are well crafted, more melodic, more focus on songwriting and the playing is phenomenal (myself being a drummer, Andrew blows my mind as do Marc and Brad). This album has been a long time in the works, considering songs like Even Rats and Soft Machine have been in the live show lineup for a few years now. Some may say that this album has pop leanings but don't knock it 'til you see a live show and you'll discover these guys let loose during a show. A great album, recommended for all.
Peace, The Dude

itsgalyo starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/10/2006 12:05PM
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This album finally bridges the gap between their stunning live shows and mediocre albums. Absolutely stunning. The Slip represents everything great about American music...innovative, evolving and eff-ing glorious.

goodtimz78 Sat 11/11/2006 05:53PM
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the slip is the band that got me tuned into the jam scene, and as much as i want my little treasures to stay my little treasures, i desperately hope the slip will make it and make it big. i have been to so many little slip shows with maybe a hundred fans who knew every word. they've given so much of themselves that now they deserve to sell out some of the larger venues. i'll still manage to be somewhere near the front row.

CatStevens4President starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/13/2006 08:03AM
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I dont have the album yet but i am very excited to hear it. I embrace the change in style from any band. The energy given off by music is alive it should change and grow , keeps it fun.

Also, Guitar Hero anyone?

All Loving Liberal White Guy Mon 11/13/2006 07:25PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

you need to change your name to YusafIslam4 president

Torrey420 starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/14/2006 12:50PM
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Buy this album. Do it...... Do it.........
Do it.

sounder13 starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/15/2006 11:02AM
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I saw The Slip on November 7th in Seattle and had been anticipating the live set and the release of Eisenhower for what felt like way too long. The show was incredible, sonically elevating the venue to heights never before reached, and with Marc on guitar for a few songs, there was different soundscape that was truly beautiful. The push for lyrics I dig and have found that Brads lyrical style only pushes his guitar playing to new and dizzying heights...the album...this work is so brilliant it blows my mind. The flow of the songs together without relying on the flow being purely instrumental, there is so much depth in that and that is where I feel the band has evolved greatly. I am actually trying not to listen to the album at this very moment because it has been on my ears non-stop for a week and I want to let it settle. This album will be one of my all time favorites in time, it will bring new people to the band-the band to new people, and it will sell. Its an amazing product of hard work, brilliant creativity, and patience.

colonelburnel2 starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/16/2006 04:31PM
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Just picked up the CD today, I've been seeing these guys since "from the Gecko" days and this CD is incredible the best release since FTG. The power of the studio really helps, Live, Brad's vocals are mostly miss and not hit, but in the studio "the vision is achieved", Marc Friedman is the "silkiest" bass player on the scene. An Andrew in my opinion is in the Stanton Moore category of drummers with a little more diversity. This is a GREAT CD!!!

siripiper starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/17/2006 12:12PM
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I can't stop listening to this CD. I think I've listened to it at least 50 times since last Tuesday. Growing up in RI, I've seen the Slip more than any other band by far. Putting a label on their sound has always been impossible from the Gecko days thru the Eisenhower release. Their evolution has been gradual as they explored and experimented with different musical styles in each of the hundreds of songs they wrote and performed. They have always been a great live show with almost 10 years of heavy touring under their belt. Somewhere on that road Brad developed a voice and developed into a poetic songwriter.

Eisenhower is by far the best recording they have put out. The songs gel together with catchy hooks, well crafted songs, great production and lyrics that will speak to the vast majority of college kids as well as 20 and 30 somethings. This album should get these guys the respect they deserve in the music industry. It’s hard to find a trio that can bring what they do to the table. Kudos to the Slip on this album, they finally captured their sound in the studio.

Andrew W. starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/17/2006 03:14PM
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Andrew W.

Three cheers for Eisenhower!!!

bessie89 Wed 11/22/2006 07:48PM
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I have yet to hear the album... but I'll tell you what I have done... read all of the comments on this page as of 11/17/2006. I find a reoccurring, and somewhat disturbing, theme throughout the series of comments that has provoked me to share my thoughts. It seems, from what I have just finished reading, that many of you - and maybe even The Slip as well - equate success with being bigger, more world-renown and rather omnipresent. I sense from the words on this page that many of you may classify The Slip as "unsuccessful" because they do not continually sell out venues the size of small cities, or because their albums are not topping the Billboard charts for endless weeks at a time. It disturbs me that Slip fans may define success in these terms. The only phrase duly equipped to describe my thoughts is... "Quality not quantity"... think about it - would you rather have 5 people who live and die to hear you play, or 50,000 who think you're "good"?? Would you rather have the type of fans like the ones commenting here on this message board... or the bogus groupies running around with "Slip" t-shirts who have no idea who The Slip is nor have any intentions of truly appreciating Slip music?? I have been to stadium sell-out shows before. I know the experience all too well. I have been that person (in years past) who goes to the event not for the music, but for the socializing. I have seen the people there. Yes, there are a lot... but many have ulterior motives. Is this the definition of success? Does a sell-out venue complete with a drunken crowd screaming words to songs that they don't appreciate mean more than a quaint gathering of devoted, diehard fans - some of whom could quite likely describe every guitar Brad Barr has ever used in his career?? Do we define success in this manner?? If this is our definition of musical success, aren't we merely idolizing and perpetuating the mindset of the corporations that many of us so gloriously bash? Isn't buying a ticket to a stadium concert comparable to purchasing products from Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Starbucks and all the other life-sucking, sweatshop-condoning businesses out there? How can we abhor Wal-Mart but love a multi-billion dollar, exploitive music industry? And, can we do so without being labeled a hypocrite? Will people ever realize the value of keeping things smaller and more meaningful? I hope I live to see the day American success is sought out through the small, the modest and the humble rather than the large, the rich and the omnipresent.

jackiesoup Thu 11/23/2006 07:23AM
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Just ordered it.
Can't wait.

dedhed6111 Fri 11/24/2006 09:13AM
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bessie, I think all of the people here are those who live and die for it. We're probably all a little scared and intimated of that kind of success, what with such a powerful album, for the slip. Good thoughts. peace.

EVILFUNK starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/25/2006 08:39AM
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bessie89 - i feel you...when it comes to making music and earning respect as artists the Slip are one of the most sucessfull bands ever to me. there are melodies and solos in the live electric album that will never escape me! i love going to see the slip for alot of reasons but mostly because they make me want to go home and practice my instruments! i have benifited endlessly from listening to the Slip. thas is sucess!

mcarroll Thu 11/30/2006 09:49AM
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bessie89: To somehow suggest it is disturbing to want the Slip to be recognized by more people for their incredible talent is, quite frankly, disturbing. I would rather see them play to 750 people, instead of the 50 or 100 that are there when I usually see them. I'm sure the band would, too. It would be great if the band sold more CD's. I don't see any comments here that are saying the Slip haven't successfully created great music, so I am not sure why that lecture was warranted. Praising the new album and hoping the Slip get more recognition should not be discouraged by anyone.

jackiesoup Thu 11/30/2006 08:48PM
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i have to say that after 5-6 hearin' it times ..I'm liking it.
Settling in with a good album takes 3-9's what I hear.
This 1 took me 4 b4 i embraced the classic nice-ness or good songwriting inside Eisenhower.
I played it 4 my Dad. He liked it rightaway so it gotta b wickED.....yo.
recomended its fo sure now ....yO

bathtubgin22 Wed 12/6/2006 09:41AM
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i need to get this album...

wvmc82 starstarstarstarstar Sun 12/10/2006 03:38AM
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(sigh) Bessie, your anticapitalist rant is tiresome. What's wrong with success defined as reaching out to the greatest number of people possible? I don't think The Slip is the kind of band that will change their format because of their fanbase or due to what the folks on MTV or the radio want to hear. I just think that a band who has come such a long way and who are so incredibly talented DESERVE commercial success. What's wrong with making money at what you're good at? Just because they may someday play at a stadium instead of a bar doesn't mean they'll be any less of a great band. It'll mean that they're reaching out to more people. I don't understand these people who think they're hip because they listen to indie bands no one else does. I think the discovery of The Slip by the masses would be incredible, because it would mean more people get to listen to The Slip. To be honest with you, I never would have heard of them unless they "Sold Out" and put "Even Rats" on Guitar Hero for the PS2. Suggesting that only "elite fans" are worthy enough to go to concerts is snobbish. Do you think everyone at Lupo's knew who the hell The Slip were when they showed up for that concert? I'm guessing there were quite a few people who were drug their by their friends or just wanted to hear something new. Just because someone doesn't live and die for a band doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to appreciate the music. So.... in short, stop whining.

And then go buy this album, because The Slip are fantastic

Torrey420 starstarstarstarstar Thu 12/14/2006 11:43AM
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Just so everyone is clear about how they got on Guitar Hero, it wasn't anything to do w/ "selling out". Their old friend and biggest fan, Jason Booth (has the largest collection of Slip bootlegs i've ever seen) is a designer on Guitar Hero and wanted to honor them on the game. That is all ;)

jackiesoup Wed 12/20/2006 07:08PM
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Saw them in T.O. at the El Mo last weekend and there were maybe 50 people there. To me it wouldn't matter if there were more but surely the band would have thrived on a bigger, more deserving crowd.
The new album is like nothing I've heard in YEARS. It is border line spooky as far as living/breathing/memorable songwriting goes. Please listen for yourself. The tracks drip with energy and uniqueness from a songwriting perspective.
Amongst many tracks Airplane/Primitive gives me the creeps and chills simultaneously. Can't get that 1 out of my head.
The whole thing truly deserves serious recognition in my opinion.
Thank you The Slip and please, please return to Toronto ..I'll try harder next time to bring more than 5 friends who were on that night converted into new fans of a truly wonderfully talented act.
Sincerely….back to t.o.

privtone Wed 1/3/2007 01:42PM
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Best ALBUM I have heard in years.....I was into it from the first listnening which is not usual.....complete, refined piece of work!!!