The Slackers,
Close My Eyes
(Hellcat, 2003)

This would have been the perfect band for a prom, 30 years ago. These guys would have satisfied the sophisticates who savored sax. They'd please practically everyone else with the earthy rock 'n' roll beats, some of it tinged with strains of reggae, for great dance music. And to top it all off, the romantics would have clung to the slow-dancing Bobby Curtolla sound of the lead crooner.

As for their effect today, what a wonderful variety of sound this band creates and delivers with absolute confidence. Even though contrasts between lyrics and melody are strong, they make it happen. Take "I'm just an old dog ... lickin' my wounds ... shot me in the head." The way they play it, the words aren't tragic, it's an artistic expression about the flow of life and being an old dog lazin' in the sun isn't all that bad, man, he's had his day.

Oh, there's so much more to like. Some gentle sounds follow as the beat changes. Don't read gentle as boring or bland. There is just so much spice in these guys, that would be the last thing you would ever say about them.

They play together with an energy that sounds effortless but is precise with clear, well-produced sounds. The relaxed feel that marks this CD isn't forced. It seems to come from a cohesive strength in the instrumental play and an uncanny knowledge of what will work. These guys appear so comfortable in their innovative creations.

Close Your Eyes is stylistic, strong and smooth. That's really evident in "Lazy Woman," one of my favorite tracks. "Bin Waitin'" is another good one.

It's kind of amazing how the band has such a strong sound of their own when they rob from such a variety of styles. The CD opens with a few blasts that remind one of the opening bars of the Hawaii Five-O theme and Caribbean struts fill the first few cuts of this CD. Perhaps we could call it pineapple-rum funk?

Other portions bring in swing sounds. So the Slackers are definitely not.

This distinctive sounding band from New York City has an earthy rhythm from a soulful production of feel-good music. They have found success on this CD by mixing rhythmic blues, jazz and swing and tying it all together like a potluck summertime barbecue. Spicy, saucy pieces of kabob meat, fleshy-juicy bits of pineapple and peach, crunchy veggies and a smooth flow of tequila punch. And, just like the barbecue, all of the prep work is done beforehand and the result is a laid-back picnic. This CD works like that, the hard work is almost hidden and the result is a free-flowing relaxed sound that fills you up with a taste of many different chunks of musical style.

The only incongruity I found was that the seriousness and sadness that emanated from the CD cover led me to expect and listen for something really different than what was delivered. A post 9/11 cover shows a TV with a mushroom cloud, a newspaper with a picture of the World Trade Center disaster and a young girl with her back to them all with her eyes closed. Because of this, I had to listen to several spins in order to really hear and accept what was on the CD.

Close Your Eyes entices you to turn your back on the harshness and hardships that plague the world and brings a little laid-back-type power into your life, even if just for a little while. If you're ready for that, this is the CD to help you clue out. I really liked it; I enjoyed the arrangements, the vocals, lyrics and the music. What more can you ask for?

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 24 July 2004

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