Released early this month, Slothbear’s new EP, Canter On, is a lighthearted, potent, and often haphazard addition to their catalog. As the title suggests, the freshly written music maintains a similar gait, and bearing to previous releases – a unique blend of college rock and noise pop. In Slothbear’s case, this uniqueness is laregely due to the irreproducible modulations of sound that result from self-production. Self-made is the way they’ve worked from the beginning, (member Doug Bleek studied music recording in college), and Canter On carries on exhibits this same vivacious immediacy, nearly rivaling the energy of a live show.
Another reason for the band’s singular sound is the deliberate exaggeration of elements within the song structure that somehow perturb or disrupt the fabric of what would otherwise be a standard alt-rock song. This often occurs in the form of conflicting lead voices, such as the two vocal parts in the opening track, “Galloping.” The two voices clash – both at the forefront, but they are rhythmically and textually disjointed. This exaggeration can also occur as the stacking together of seemingly disjointed parts, such as in the featured track “Sleep Daze,” which alternates between the flow of a disorienting jazzy guitar melody and the cyclical punches of a single dissonant chord.
Towards the end of the EP, Slothbear lays off the unexpected, delivering two solid straight-ahead lo-fi pop tunes. “Wide Birth,” one of my favorites on the album, sounds like if Sebadoh was fronted by a young, less refined David Bowie.
The whole EP is available for a price of your choice (this includes, but shouldn’t necessarily imply “free”) on their bandcamp page.