Slang Chickens - Slang Chickens
Record Label: Psychedelic Judaism
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Eccentric and unorthodox; two words which can either be a blessing or a curse to musicians, artists, and any profession that requires creative thinking. There's a good chance that the reason you stand out from the crowd isn't due to a measure of shock and awe, but hilarity and ridicule. Similar advice can just as easily apply to integrating elements of, or simply blending, different genres together. Blurring the boundaries, whether it's by introducing electronic guitars to folk, or orchestral themes to jazz, often seem to draw the menace of purists on either side of the fence. Disregarding all possible risks, Slang Chickens have dived into the fray with reckless abandon.
The Los Angeles-based musical outfit boasts a broad array of musical influences, such as "The Gun Club, X, Devo, Neil Young, Everly Brothers, Mississippi John Hurt, Flying Burrito Bros., and Pavement" (as quoted from their description, given by their record label). While I'm not certain about some of the artists, others, most prominently The Gun Club, and Neil Young,as well as Flying Burrito Bros. are worn in plain sight on the Slang Chickens' sleeves to good effect. With a mix of country, pop, and even punk elements, the group manages to create a pleasing sound reminiscent of a Californian shore: beautiful and wild, but marked by polluted streaks of empty cans and bottles - a touch of the gritty and rough. A blend of acoustic and electric guitars scratching and raking their way across the songs amidst the steady harmony of the bass, a firm pulse from the drums, and other nuances lead towards frantic strides taken with reckless abandon in "Club Love". In contrast, when the dust settles the drums and bass switch tempo to provide a slow, lazy beat that weaves in and out of the idle plucking of the guitars in the melancholy "Wild Winds". Despite their forte seemingly lying in raucous, fun-filled cacophonous melodies, the Slang Chickens are capable of being both infectious with energy, and stepping back to give way to a more introspective, thoughtful spectrum of sound.
The lyrics are whimsical and amusing, some of them telling short anecdotes, while others are seemingly nonsensical ramblings about life. Laughter from the lyrics of "Blues (Dripping Down My Leg)," ("...got blues dripping down my leg; I should go to the doctor but I really wanna stay in bed...") are off-set by the more reflective, yet no less upbeat "Black Don't Turn Blue" ("...you can blame this life on someone else; beside your pride you’ve got your money and your health - black don’t turn blue even if you want it to..."). While not the most eloquent, or the most poetic, the down-to-earth, simple words are easy to relate to, and in that sense, they strike closer to the heart than any form of poetry might.
Slang Chickens' vocals are marked not only by the rough, slightly nasal drawl of lead singer Evan Weiss, but also by sporadic outbursts of harmony from the rest of the members during chorus sections, as well. While Weiss' voice takes the main stage with his stronger, somewhat restrained voice, the higher-toned voices of the other Chickens result in a mismatching - in a pleasant way - union. In an industry that's been dominated by perfectly adjusted, auto-tuned robotic voices who manage to nail every note on a three-octave chromatic scale, Weiss' coarser, and even "flawed" (by comparison) voice is refreshing to a certain extent; similar to that of an unpolished gem in the middle of perfect carbon impostors - a diamond in the rough.
The Slang Chickens' album is an interesting listen, for me, at least. Country and punk rarely seem to mix well, if often, at all, and yet this quartet was able to pull it off with surprising success. This brand of "punk poultry" (words which are not my own invention) will remain in my collection of music until a day when the sun shines brighter - something for the nicer, lazier days of the summer.