Listen Up: Wednesday, March 08, 2006
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Slowride

Con Safos (Self-released)

By Caroline Collier

While longtime Dallasites Slowride have never committed to any particular genre, the band’s latest, Con Safos, is a slice of the power trio’s penchant for hard-rock anthems in the grunge key of feigned apathy.

Nearly every track of the 12 here is raw and aloof and is a balancing act between at least two music elements — mostly grunge and metal— and between peace and war. Though tight and well-developed, the band frequently overpowers the listener, forcing her to grope through a thick, blustery fog for meaning or emotional resonance.

Things get interesting when the mashed-together elements don’t closely resemble each other. In counterpoint to the domineering machine-gun drums and meaty, growling six-string work, frontman Dan Phillips adopts a calm, borderline-bored vocal delivery.

The cumulative effect of several dozen similarly volatile juxtapositions explains why the record is difficult to define and even harder to ignore. Produced by Stuart Sikes (The Walkmen, The White Stripes, Jets to Brazil), Con Safos does a great job of making skillfully orchestrated hard rock seem impetuous and off-the-cuff.

The record opens with “A New Day is on Us” and an ominous-sounding guitar that slowly devolves into shadowy, thick crescendos. “The Year of the Snake” resounds with punk enthusiasm, aided in no small measure by the blinding speed and cymbal-splitting strength of drummer Steve Visneau. “Morals and Dogma” continues the overwhelming pace for a time but eventually dissolves into a mellow hum, allowing Phillips to declare that “In subsequent and lazy times, a rule was handed down from years before” (hence, the song title). The instrumental “For Lola” evokes a trance before quickly exploding into a fireball of sonic fury.

Con Safos (a Spanish phrase that translates loosely into English as “immune to insult”), does have a few quiet moments, and they let the listener take deep breaths, find her center, and, if she knows music well, ponder the enormous amount of energy this band expends in transforming its simple garage-band dynamic into deep intensity. Overall, however, this ride is full of rushing noises but lacking in real adventure.


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