The Orange-based duo of Dustin Poulton and David Pope have, with their band Slings, created a fanciful world in which songs are stories and the harmonica is a totally serious instrument. On the band’s newest ethereal collab, The Old Hopeful Trail, an innovative balance has been established that allows both natural and mechanical elements to coexist. The harsh industrial-grind slashing doesn’t ruin the organic textures here, but rather complements them, helping Slings to diversify an otherwise granola-crunching persona. Listen to the team take a combo of acoustic guitars and undiluted country vocals and make it fresh with heavy distortion and grit. The album’s opener, a sleepy western titled “Gold Teeth,” melts together monosyllabic onomatopoeia with a line of shocking fuzz that recalls the similar hum-worthiness of Ohio band the Sun. “Christmas Carol” veers away slightly with a higher tempo and filtered, almost transparent vocals. (Far as I can tell, the song isn’t holiday-themed—more of a lonely love song—but it’d sure be a welcome change from the constant drone of ear-numbing traditional carols.) Taking a cue from M. Ward and Iron and Wine, Slings also find the beauty in eloquent songwriting, but add touches of adventurous quirk. “This Ain’t No Last Dance” wraps around a Dick Dale-inspired guitar riff and leans into some Nick Cave-esque ominous brooding before exploding into a cyclonic crescendo of clashing. Not only an escape from the mundane, the world of Slings is one where an imagination is free to streak naked through the woods. Like a verse from their track “The Songbird,” “The harder the work, the more lovely the dream.”
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and decent high-resolution photos (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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