Minimalist Notions

Sloepoke (Independent)

Sloepoke

By John Bohannon

There has been a rock 'n' roll music philosophy floating around for quite some time now: Simpler is better. Louisville's answer to this philosophy is minimalist guitar-driven group Sloepoke. They could even possibly be coined a minimalist jam group. (Well, wait - is that an oxymoron? Considering no song on the record is more than four minutes long, this may be a pretentious comment.) While most groups these days think that glory comes out of the complexity and dense arrangements of art-rock, these guys have stuck to the simple road - the one where the same chords always sound beautiful and the pavement is one straight shot ahead.

These bands always seem to venture into the lo-fi production qualities. Sloepoke, however, takes the straightforward route even further by using production qualities that aren't intriguing to the studio aficionado - but they pull it off. I think these guys might have fit well in the late '80s and early '90s power-pop era, right around the time bands like Catherine Wheel and Matthew Sweet were picking up mighty fine cult followings. I quite fancy this record because the last time I remember someone in Louisville doing anything similar was Peter Searcy with Big Wheel - just playing solid rock n' roll with all the glory - and, hopefully, without the consequence.

"Sleep" makes me wish that these guys would share a bill with The Pine Club, making it the perfect accompaniment to the vibe this track gives off: danceable, driven power chords to the max. "Hippy Song" doesn't quite remotely trigger the jam crowd but pays reverence to Louisville greats King Kong in the style of the dry guitar hook followed by the artsy, distorted breakdown. In fact, this band's second half of the record reminds me of King Kong quite a lot. They take the bare essentials of just about every genre you can think of and pop them out in three or four minutes and never overdo their stay. For example "With Breeze" is along the lines of an offbeat surf track while "Climb a Tree" follows more of the formula Nirvana would have on In Utero. "Dilodid" rocks in the vein of John Paul Jones all the way into a Les Claypool-esque bass riff.

I've said it once, I'll say it again - Louisville keeps growing and growing music-wise. If more bands keep popping up that locals are going to follow, there's going to be no need for national acts to pass through. They will come here and think, "Damn, we've been outdone." Sloepoke is on its way to being another one of those bands with a nasty (and by nasty, I mean good) cult following. All you have to do is let these guys rock your socks off.