The Front Bottoms - Slow Dance to Soft Rock
Release Date: June 2010
Record Label: Unsigned
The Front Bottoms are the sort of band that makes me really sad. Now a two-man ensemble, the New Jersey natives are at the point in their careers where they have to save up money to go on a short tour, then they go out, make people happy, and come back home broke, only to repeat the process. The band is getting set to release a new EP this spring, but their 2010 EP Slow Dance to Soft Rock is finally gaining some acclaim from more remote parts of the Internet.
Simply put, The Front Bottoms play an eager and honest brand of indie rock/punk. They are catchy and accessible but they are simultaneously punk as hell because this EP was recorded in a warehouse and a basement and it sounds like it was written just for the hell of it. That isn't to say that Slow Dance to Soft Rock is careless; guitarist/vocalist Brian Sella may wildly weave through lyricism that is as subtle as a brick in the small of your back while drummer Matt Uychich blasts out sharp snare hits and crashing symbols, but it's done appropriately.
I've commonly seen fans of the band questioning wondrously how it's possible that more people aren't paying attention to the two-piece, but it's really not a mystery. This music isn't for everyone. But the people who it is for - the people who enjoy singing along to a personal story that some guy is telling - are absolutely thrilled by it. Opener "Swimming Pool" and the song that follows it, "The Beers," are perfect examples. In the opener, Sella is belting out something about an extension cord and a blacklight that is going to make him very rich over the doodle of an acoustic guitar, the melody of a piano and the audible passion of Uychich's drumming. If you enjoy the song, you don't care what it's about; you just know that it's cool music that is fun to sing along to.
During the chorus of "The Beers," which is the highlight of Slow Dance to Soft Rock, Sella cries out, "I will remember that summer / As the summer I was taking steroids / Cause you like a man with muscles / And I like you." Where does something like that even come from? Why do people like singing about a guy taking steroids to impress a girl? The point is that it doesn't matter, because fans of this band just take it how it is, and don't ask questions about it.
The musicianship, considering that only three people recorded this EP, is extremely erratic. The creativity is impressive: on top of your normal piano, guitars, and drums, you also get horns on one track and a violin on another. The violin is presented on "Maps," perhaps the single track that could launch this band to another level. I can't imagine many an angsty youth who wouldn't want to sing along when Sella muses, "One day you'll be washing yourself with hand soap in a public bathroom / And you'll be thinking, 'How did I get here? / Where the hell am I?'" The lyrics aren't as relatable as they are transparently clever, bold and amusing.
Slow Dance to Soft Rock is the cliché change of pace from the norm. Although I overuse this word, the EP is a refreshing listen compared to your normal stable of music. Hopefully this band can muster up enough attention to properly tour the land, and maybe even one day make a real career out of playing music, which seems to be all that Sella and Uychich want to do.