with Sons of An Illustrious Father and LYONSDALE
Everyone Else With their long-awaited third album Everyone Else, Slothrust deliver ten riveting anthems that reward repeated listens. The songs grab the ear and pierce the psyche with complex arrangements and lyrical depth intensified by guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum’s penetrating vocal delivery.
Slothrust is Wellbaum, Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums). The trio first staked out their unique strain of jazz- and blues-afflicted rock as students at Sarah Lawrence College. The band’s 2012 debut Feels Your Pain, and its successor 2014’s Of Course You Do, established the band as a breed apart, serving up deceptively clever epics that veer satisfyingly between incandescent riffing and pop hooks, winsome anxiety and powerful heft.
“People have always had trouble comparing us to other bands, but someone recently described us as Nirvana meets Wynton Marsalis, and I loved that,” says Wellbaum. Even the band’s name inspires a beat of thoughtful consideration as the eyes take in the letters and the brain makes its snap judgement: Slo Thrust? Slot Rust? Slo Trust? Sloth-Rust.
We all studied jazz and blues, so I often use chords and voicings that aren’t quite as conventional for contemporary rock,” she continues. “Certain harmonic movement can get stale, so I try to incorporate colorful notes to give it more depth. The improvisational spirit of blues music is also something we try to always keep with us, even in more composed playing. I am drawn to musicians a bit further outside of the rock tradition, such as John Fahey, Elizabeth Cotten, D’Angelo, and Portishead. Growing up I listened to a lot of R&B and classical music. And musicals.”
While Everyone Else clearly shows Wellbaum fulfilling her early promise as a singer, it’s where she hits her stride as a lyricist: Pulling the listener under the surface to explore a submerged world brimming with exotic creatures. Water motifs abound, detailing oddly off-kilter observations about floating, submerging and drowning that are anything but morose. Instead, they contort and reflect worldly truths about life on dry land.
Nowhere is this vision clearer than on the slow burn of the album’s centerpiece track “Horseshoe Crab.” Here, with storm cloud riffs and Will Gorin and Kyle Bann’s perfectly calibrated rhythmic undercurrent, Slothrust’s erupts in a geyser of emotional and spatial distance, as Wellbaum observes, “I don’t have anything in common with myself, except that I came from the sea, like everyone else did.”
“Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone” opens like some bizzarro world lullaby dispensing sage advice: “Drink seltzer, smoke weed when you can’t sleep. Think about shooting birds, everyone has got a violent streak.” Then, as the guitars explode, the rhythm section dials into stylish, disciplined groove to set up an expansive instrumental break that gently floats to a close with Wellbaum, at peace: “Hold me under the water. My lungs are filling with plankton. But the lake is not lonely. No need for you to come with me.”
Above all the overriding ethos of Everyone Else is its sense of inclusiveness: all people, every feeling, quiet, loud, any time signature. With a snap of the neck the band launches into the hyper-adrenalized “Rotten Pumpkin” with Wellbaum singing in a rapid-fire vomit burst, “I’ll make you sick because I’m soft water. Reach inside of me, and scoop out my seeds.” This midpoint between grunge and art rock is the aesthetic Slothrust elevates: sharp-eyed individualism, serious musicianship, humble intelligence, controlled abandon.
In the six years since its inception, Brooklyn-based Sons of an Illustrious Father has taken many forms, from acoustic duo to rock quintent. Its current incarnation consists of Josh Aubin, Lilah Larson, and Ezra Miller, who share vocal and songwriting responsibilities and exchange instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums, among others. They draw from a vast constellation of influences, from folk traditionals to contemporary hip-hop and the rich and varied history of rock ‘n’ roll in between. The result is music that explores the space between the ancient and modern, gentle and aggressive, strong and vulnerable, quiet and loud. They have released two full-length albums, one EP, and most recently a series of singles, “No Mercy” / “Loveletting” and “Very Few Dancers” / “Strange Home.”
Lyonsdale is a four-piece Indie rock team of champions based out of Boise, Idaho. This all started long ago when vocalist Ian Stockman and drummer Kaleb Ziesing became friends in grade school. Having found a mutual love of music and performing, they decided they were destined to make music together and formed many different musical acts over the years. It wasn’t until the summer of 2016 they discovered their mutual friend Gabe had taught himself the guitar and they starting writing music as a trio. This is when Lyonsdale was formed.
They immediately headed to the streets of Boise and Nampa with a cajon and two guitars while playing their original tunes to create a local buzz. After months of writing, they hit the studio and recorded their debut EP titled “Finger Guns”. It was released on iTunes and all streaming services on January 27th, 2017. It was then they recruited longtime friend Jac to play bass for them to fill their live sound. With songs like “Dry Land” and “There’s Brightness Everywhere”, their love of catchy melodies and tight grooves are very present in their pop-driven alternative songs. Lyonsdale is currently playing shows all over Idaho and are writing more music for their first full length album, which will be released late 2017!