Slam Dunk - Welcome to Miami
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Nov. 13, 2012
Remember the anxiety and urgency of first love, a new job, first day of the semester? Remember the rush of adrenaline during a night out on the town or sky diving for the first time? Chances are, so does the Vancouver band Slam Dunk, who offer up jittery and propulsive indie rock that play like a soundtrack to these indelible moments. Anchored by vocalist Jordan Minkoff's throaty yelps, resplendent horns and a freewheeling nostalgia that sounds more 1950s than 2010s, the band's sophomore disc Welcome to Miami is 10 deeply psychedelic cuts of punchy indie-rock that have a propulsion and passion that is both intoxicating and enviable.
The first of the ten that leaps from the speakers is the howling hootenanny "Can't Stand It," which has a foot deeply rooted in Southern soul and another rooted in punk ethos. Its successor "Dying Breed," rattles and spits from the opening seconds and bounces along like a ska track. One critic has referred to Slam Dunk as the "E-Street Band on crack," and with tracks like "Dying Breed," and its successor, the frenetic and funky "Da Dunda," that reference seems absolutely valid. Welcome to Miami's best moment might arguably be the steadfast "Why Can't I Change?," which has armfuls of charisma and a swerve that is too hard to pass up. The angst and angry "Scabies," channels the fury and frustration of Isaac Brock, while "Horse Bumper," marries Brit-punk leanings with a sense of urgency and anxiety that borders on manic.
The slightly theatrical "Runner," tethers itself to a winning piano line and a sense of showmanship that feels slightly vaudevillian. Aside from "Why Can't I Change?" it might arguably be one of Welcome to Miami's most inspired moments. The disc dips a bit on "Sass," and "Peter," and while neither of them are regrettable, they don't do much to differentiate themselves from the rest of the disc. On the knockout "Fantasy," Minkoff and Co. instill a Vampire Weekend-like sentiment to their repertoire and its a decision that pays huge dividends. Album conclusions are supposed to leave the listener wanting more, are supposed to force you to think about replaying the disc all over again. "Fantasy," does all that and then some. And therein lies the power and promise of one of Canada's best-kept secrets. From front to back, everything about Welcome to Miami is effervescent, engaging and enveloping. Music doesn't always have to be fun and feisty, but if it's going to be, it better be as enjoyable as Welcome to Miami.