Not content with inventing his own musical genres by taking the common building blocks of familiar sounds and fashioning them into new sonic architecture, Garden City is Slang building a whole new world for those sounds to inhabit. It’s a place where “a red river flows through the veins of an enchanted forest” and “through the mist, in the heartland, lays Garden City.” That may seem a bit proggy, but rest assured this isn’t the music of wizards and epic quests, unless the wizards are the musicians making this glorious sound and their quest is a search for the groove.
If Growing Wild had a solid rock base and Los Weekend wandered more sun kissed island life sounds, Garden City is a weave of funk, blues and jazz shored up with just a taster of rock to drive things along. Largely an instrumental concern, as always it is the riffs and the musical dynamics that act as the point of communication here and they paint wonderful soundscapes to conjure the fantastic landscapes that are being conveyed.
Red River kicks off with a healthy dose of rock, perhaps reflecting the power and majesty of the title but it is an album that constantly shifts gears. Heartland is a gentle and funky lullaby, Buzz Boomer is an 80’s infused pop-rock blast and Amber Trails wanders into Steely Dan’s soulful jazz-rock hallowed ground.
Again Slang surrounds himself with the cream of the music fraternity to help realise his musical vision, Jib Kantawong provides bass lines that both route the music and explores the spaces between the main melodies, Maverick of the band Amistad provides vocals when required and Mung Brother Dan Palladino, normally found wielding a deft six-string, here contributes to the rather tasty gang vocals.
As always Slang offers something that sounds both familiar through the genres it plays with but unique because of the way that those genres are woven together, once again proving that even amongst the most tried and tested musical territory there is still plenty of room for exploration and invention. You just have to be smart enough, not to mention brave enough, to head out down a road less travelled.