Slobberbone is quite an enjoyable rock band. Once you get past the gross name -- borrowed from a chew toy made for dogs -- and the superficially raw sound, youll notice several things. One is that the band often performs at a very rapid Sex Pistols-like tempo, only without exuding the rage associated with that groundbreaking punk band -- in fact, you might be surprised at how calmly such frenetically paced tunes can be sung. Once you adjust to the pace, youll notice that the playing is pretty accomplished (especially the guitar), and the lyrics are interesting. Youll even find shades of lilting country songs and tonal colors from rocks big palette.
Slobberbone coagulated in early-1990s Texas. It began as a few guys having fun with their instruments and playing for free beer -- the group's first gig took place in a liquor store. Crow Pot Pie was the bands first CD, Barrel Chested its second (both originally released by Doolittle Records, in 1996 and 1997 respectively). Between the release of the two CDs, the core band slimmed down from five to three members. Two additional discs have come out since these first two, the most recent in September 2002. These early discs were critically acclaimed first time around and Slobberbone has continued to garner significant publicity, including a national television tour.
While competent, hard-working, and deserving of respect, this band shuns expectations foisted onto Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, John Lennon, Jim Morrison -- among others -- that good rockers must be divinely inspired with wisdom. This lone line appears after the credits in Barrel Chested's liner notes: "Remember: Its rock."
The first two tracks of Crow Pot Pie, among many others on both discs, focus on the profound and esoteric practice known as drinking -- at least, superficially. The refrain of "Man Among Men" goes, "I know I am no man among men / Jesus, I pray youll take me in."
Dont be fooled, though. Brent Best, who writes the songs, is loaded with brains and talent, not just beer. One tune that tells you so right off is Crow Pot Pies "Little Sister." The singers sister, initially heard carping that its time to come inside and get down from high up in a tree, died in an accident as a child. The refrain: "Little sister, where have you gone? / In the night I hear you cryin and the days are so damn long / Sometimes I wish I could-a gone instead of you / And I wonder if you were sittin here / Would you be thinkin that too?" The absence of overt sentimentality and the multiple imaginary place switchings drive the listener to confront an uncomfortable truth's cold grip on the human heart.
If youre smart and talented and people seek wisdom from you, you have to mind what you say, lest you take heat for stupid choices made in response to your intelligent words. If youre smart and talented and youre jes drinkin' beer and havin' a good time playin' some tunes, then there's no heat -- all is cool. You've preempted wisdom seekers who may mistake warnings for recommendations.
Thats why I think Slobberbone is so clever. When the band sounds like it's having trouble fitting all of the syllables into a line or as though the guitar isnt quite in tune yet, youd better listen: This band isnt just chewing the bone.
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