EP REVIEW: “Red Bridge” by Slow Riots

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There is a quote from an amazing article I read about the heavy music scene earlier this week (click on this link to read it http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2013/12/dont-listen-to-everything/ ) that best describes how I feel about Slow Riots and their new EP “Red Bridge” and it goes like this:

“There is too much music and too many musicians, and the amateurs are often good enough for the public. This is healthy for culture, not so much for aesthetics, and shit for musicians. Musicians in the early ’90s were already feeling the pressure of competition from CD reissues of old stuff; here in the future, you can get almost anything that has ever been digitised for free and listener time is the precious commodity.”

There was also something I wrote in my Tape / Off review (you can read that here: https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/single-review-pedestal-fan-by-tape-off/) which also applies here and it is as follows:

“There are a lot of really nice human beings making fucking terrible music in the Brisbane Music Scene at the moment. As a reviewer it is hard because you want to like these bands / artists purely on the merit of how great the humans in the bands are but you can’t because they make shite music that has no artistic value. Sure they may be the triple j darlings or the underground heroes but bad music is bad music and friends should never let other friends make bad music, but I’m always just a loose acquaintance so I guess I can shit on that carpet.”

In this instance I’m a loose acquaintance for sure but I know that a lot of the friends / family / fans of Slow Riots will hate me for what I’m about to write, but you can’t adjust how something resonates with you, you either feel it or you don’t and in the case of “Red Bridge” by Slow Riots I just don’t feel a thing, but heavy and weird were asked to review it so here we go.

The most positive thing about the brand new Slow Riots EP “Red Bridge” is that it is made by humans and is all original material. Full marks will always be awarded to any human being attempting to create original music. I must admit though, that is where the positives begin and end for me and despite attaching all the right genre tags to their music in order to reel me in, the music just failed to impress.

Where Slow Riots win is that they have indeed evolved from their first EP. There is more confidence in the playing and they sound a lot more comfortable in their own skin allowing for the songs to sound well put together. Dynamically and aesthetically these songs are flawed in so many ways and whilst you could dismiss these flaws as a simple exercise in the lo-fi DIY shtick, there is not enough dust or dirt in these songs to lean on that excuse. The songs sound way too structured for the genres and bands Slow Riots are attempting to align themselves with and it sounds more Nu-Metal than it does 90’s Alternative, Math Rock or Shoegaze.

I must commend the rhythm section because they sound incredibly tight and they deliver a very inspired performance. There is something a little Nu-Metal about the way bass and drums of Slow Riots lock in; in that Incubus / Karnivool kind of way but there are distant peppering’s of Helmet for sure. The rhythm section have set a solid foundation here and show an intense discipline is at play but a little bit more looseness may have allowed for these songs to sound more emotional and alive, overall though – a killer rhythm section.

The guitar lines are intricate and well-structured but they lack emotion and meaning and sound re-hashed. There is nothing original about the execution of the guitar riffs and whilst they demonstrate that James Hilan has great technique and skill it says very little about his creativity and if anything showcases a lack of it. I rarely comment on this type of thing in my reviews, but the overall tone of the guitars suffer from that disgusting “frogstomp” or “battle of the bands” curse where they sound incredibly dull and lifeless. Adjusting the tones and experimenting with different guitar textures may have helped save some of these songs but unfortunately they remain flat lined and uninspiring. Even in a lo-fi DIY setting you can still make your guitars shine with divinity (80’s Sonic Youth, 80’s Dinosaur Jr., Early Helmet, Shellac and Sebadoh).

Vocally James is attempting something he is unable to pull off and it is a bummer because he has the right idea but just lacks the skills melodically to make it work. Even with the style of vocal delivery James is attempting it is important to understand how the melody of it all fits in with the structure of the song because if it isn’t applied with care then it sounds clumsy and lacks impact. It all sounds like a rushed after thought with all of the lyrics sounding like they are trying way too hard to be clever and art school casual. The words in these songs are way too calculated to be clever or art school casual.

The most inspiring part of this EP is how it is pieced together like one long song, yes each song has the same basic dynamics but as a whole piece it works together if you imagine it as one very long song. Perhaps that is how the band intended it to be communicated and big marks to them for attempting such a progressive challenge. With a better producer the band could have really taken these songs to some “out of this world” places, instead we get a good demonstration of what great mathematicians Slow Riots are.

I totally understand what kind of band Slow Riots are attempting to be and I really hope they reach that place eventually but on “Red Bridge” they fail to capture the excitement, energy and emotion of the genres they claim to be influenced by. This is great music for the young and the beautiful and will no doubt have them exploding with joyful bliss but for the old and the ugly it just sounds like a poor attempt at genre flattery.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/slowriots
Bandcamp – http://slowriots.bandcamp.com/
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/SlowRiots
CD Baby – http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/SlowRiots
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/slow-riots

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