The Slackers - The Great Rock-Steady Swindle (Cover Artwork)

The Slackers

The Slackers: The Great Rock-Steady SwindleThe Great Rock-Steady Swindle (2010)
Hellcat Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: SumWonSumWon
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The Slackers are anything but. They have released 12 LPs in 14 years, and many of those near or exceed the one-hour mark. The Great Rock-Steady Swindle, released last week, has arrived mere months after the rarities album, Lost and Found. Given the band's prolific nature, it should be of no surprise.
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The Slackers are anything but. They have released 12 LPs in 14 years, and many of those near or exceed the one-hour mark. The Great Rock-Steady Swindle, released last week, has arrived mere months after the rarities album, Lost and Found. Given the band's prolific nature, it should be of no surprise that TGRS finds the band continuing to push the limits of Slackerdom--three tracks forgo Jamaican skank altogether, while a couple more shake the skank temporarily, and they have sought a vintage, "one mic in a room" feel. In all, the album consists of 15 tracks selected from 28 recorded during the session, and it includes at least one composition from each band member.

This last fact--that each member contributed music--is the album's greatest strength and weakness. While it leaves the band with a plethora of material to choose from, it also leads to a few jarring transitions. Case in point: "Mr. Tragedy." Ara Babajian's first song for the band, it is a fun and goofy tune likely to be stuck in one's head hours at a time. But it simply does not suit the album, especially following a battery of melancholy first-wave ska/rocksteady grooves. The lyrics--"Black cats cross your path in the park / Pianos fall upon you in the dark"--are too sharp in contrast from the lyrical styles of the other members, who seem, of late, to be taking more cues from beat poets than Looney Tunes. "Mr. Tragedy" would have been a gem on Lost and Found, or a strong stand-alone single, but it is an outlier on this particular album.

Other lesser songs include "Long Way Off" and "Don't Look Back." While both are pleasant, neither commands attention. And ska has enough trouble garnering merit without its premier musicians aping Lion King riffs. But hakuna matata, I suppose.

Without breaking down every member's inclusions, this reviewer feels that one Slacker deserves special mention: Marcus Geard, bassist, contributes two tracks, both excellent. He is the unsung talent in the band. While his songwriting credits--and acclaim--are seldom compared to heavyweights Ruggiero and Hillyard, his contributions are, without fail, among the best of any given album, and they just might be the two strongest on TGRS. "Tool Shed" and "The TV Dinner Song" are instant classics.

The heart of the album begins with the 12th song, "Anastasia," and ends with the 15th, "The Same Everyday." The quality of this final barrage of songs is incredible, and it demonstrates a seasoned band flexing as much as it can without hyperextending. Acoustic balladry, Motown, rocksteady with country-western elements, and barn-burning '60s throwback ska pack into 14 minutes of sonic bliss, with songwriting credits spread equally among the four usual contributors.

During an interview conducted on the cusp of the album's release, Vic stated that the band planned to keep the album shorter than 15 tracks. However, they decided that they'd include the 15 strongest, as they deemed them, and let the listeners cut the running time as they see fit. The question that arises, then, is why did they stop at 15 when they recorded 28? There are 10-12 great tracks here, so their decision to dilute the final product slightly is a curiosity. As it stands, the album is an 8/10. Trimmed by 10 minutes and it's a solid 9. However, any complaint one might have about the Slackers can be assuaged in knowing that they will likely be readying a new album in a year or two.

By the way, Vic has alluded to there being some Sex Pistols buried in here somewhere (beyond the title). Has anyone made the excavation?


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
StraightToHell82 (August 26, 2010)

As of 8/26/10... still the album of the year.

holy_hack_ben (May 15, 2010)

I'm really enoying this album. Pretty sure "tool shed" is gonna be stuck in my head for a long time. Great summer album.

ashtraymonument (May 4, 2010)

it's always hard for me to distinguish with great ease between slackers albums. There's nothing for me too hate, by any means. I just fee like they are just on a plateau of really good-ness.

if that makes any sense.

regardless, I enjoyed this album

the instrumental cover of "Ain't No Sunshine" is pretty cool

keithybobeefy (May 2, 2010)

My assumption was correct. This is great. Pretty positive it will be in my top 5 at the end of the year.

Slacker (May 2, 2010)

Really great album. Better than Self Medication

oldpunkerforever (May 2, 2010)

just want to add, so far this is CD of the year, easy-oldpunker-

telegraphrocks (May 1, 2010)

This very well may be their finest release! I believe I've listened to this about 3 times a day since it's release... oh, so, fucking, good!

Favorite tracks: "How It Feels", "Daddy", "Sabina"... but what's the fucking deal with the vinyl release? Only 11 songs included! Why not just make it a double-vinyl, you cheap-ass Hellcat jerks!

Problematiclogic (May 1, 2010)

Waited so long for this and it was definitely worth it. Looks like I'm not going to be the only one playing it all summer!

TahoeJeff (May 1, 2010)

This album is great!

i-type-poorly (April 30, 2010)

This is a great album. I was annoyed at first how scattershot it is compared to Self Medication (which may be my fav by now), and there seems to be a lot of rhyming for the sake of rhyming in the lyrics.

But after a bit, I was rolling right along with the songs. "Anastasia" and "Sabina" are prob my favorites.

GlassPipeMurder (April 30, 2010)

can't wait to hear this. i'll see if i can decode the sex pistols reference.

lushj (April 30, 2010)

They were great in San Francisco last weekend- excellent stuff & the new Ara song was featured in the set too- it fit in great live. Looking forward to hearing the record!

slick33 (April 30, 2010)

Another great album by one of the best bands in the business.
I saw them last night in San Diego, and as always, they didn't disappoint. I got to chat with Marcus Gillard for a bit at their merch table before they took the stage, too. He's a real nice guy who genuinely loves what he does - always refreshing to see that from an artist, especially in a band that's been going strong for so long.

ozmanx (April 30, 2010)

These guys are playing the Glasshouse tomorrow night.

baseball (April 30, 2010)

Nothing this band has ever released deserves less than 4 stars. They are remarkably consistent. Another great album just in time for summer.

magneticbedhead (April 30, 2010)

I think this is one of their more solid releases. I too will be playing this all summer. I disagree with the reviewer stating a ??Long Way Off? is forgettable. I think that is one of the more better tracks. The Same Everyday is probably one of the best songs they have written. That is sure to be included in the live set.

shrapnel (April 30, 2010)

this album is great, will be playing all summer

oldpunkerforever (April 30, 2010)

Love it, these guys always manage to sound so fresh and timeless, same everyday, TV dinner song, how it feels, because.....all so good. The melodies are crazy good Vic and Glen have done it again-oldpunker-

keithybobeefy (April 30, 2010)

I haven't listened yet, but they have never disappointed me and I'm pretty sure this will be another great record.

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