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Slot | The Sweet Black Bear | review | rock | Lollipop
The Sweet Black Bear (Small Stone)
by Craig Regala
Alternative rock was a great goddamn moment. It was NOT the simple thing tagged "grunge," but a time when lotsa action thought unrelated was bundled into the same zone as a functional consequence, not a marketing value. A moment when various sounds and approaches had been bandied about and accepted; jamming acid rock, funk, freak folk, hard rock, and other twisted roots of the world wide rock tree through the avant punk wormhole. A world where The Laughing Hyenas' fractured howl would share the stage with Scrawls' churning punk-absorbed folk-rock without a twitch out of the audience. Not One Fucking Twitch. Why? Because each of the bands had an identity and focus that gave'm gravity in the same cultural space (i.e. "let's take it to the stage").
Slot was a band that personified this freedom to play rock music unencumbered by hipster/non-hipster marketing concerns. Hey, if they wanted to slip down the same slope as the Too Pure label's roster, they could. If they wanted to ride the Grand Funk Railroad, ditto. Miles Davis' "On the Corner," The Byrds' "Eight Miles High," etc. Grind it up, it's all grist for the mill. Now you can hear where they ended up a dozen years ago. The reason why you'd want to is The Sweet Black Bear is a good listen. Freed up by the "anyone can play" DIY of punk whatnot, gals got out of the basement and onto the stage. Now "equality" in and of itself is useless to art: It only matters when it frees up more talented people to get after it.
Slot's "getting after" has rangy garage pulse drumming that could drive anyone's mom to frug as well as cruise around the pulsing orb like any band that loaded Can, Faust, and Neu in their shopping cart. The singing is dreamy in a shoegazer way, directly plainspoken or a phased sound in the background, no matter what she does, it works. The guitar clangs and drifts, punches the rock button and fills nooks and crannies with psychedelic burn from three different eras. The bass rumbles and throbs, ranging around and circling back to keep the groove intact. The tunes, yup, the tunes are there. This record's got the kinda songs that anyone wanting to fill out a set list and breakup their own thing could cover and pretend it's homegrown.