Hear First: Sloucher’s Be True

Stream the debut album and read a reflection on it by Michael Lerner (Telekinesis) here.

Hear First is Talkhouse’s series of album premieres. Along with streams of upcoming albums—today’s is Sloucher’s Be True—we publish statements from artists and their peers about the mindsets and impressions that go into, or come out of reflection on, a record. Here, Michael Lerner (Telekinesis) shares his thoughts on the album, which you can also listen to right here.
—Annie Fell, associate editor, Talkhouse

A warm blanket. So comforting, so familiar. Not too dissimilar to the feeling of listening to a classic record, one you’ve heard hundreds of times yet still envelopes you in that known coziness. It is your best friend. Always there, always true.

Be True, the first full-length record from Seattle four-piece Sloucher, instantly feels like a classic. It’s a best friend, the comfortable blanket of sound I find myself constantly reaching toward after too many electronic or experimental records—a palette cleanser of wonderful melodies, infectious guitar lines, and great no frills rock and roll.

We are currently living in an interesting time for music. It’s difficult to comprehend the effect technology has had on the way music is played, or even consumed, because we are too close to the moment. Computers have made creating music easier and more accessible to swaths of musicians in recent years (including myself), leading to more and more records being produced in home studios, many times without the guidance of a record producer. I know this process well, being myself a one man band who has taken this same route to record production. The possibilities are endless: adding sounds, swapping arrangements, cutting up or chopping samples. Scarce are the days of a group of human beings going into a studio full of microphones, playing their instruments to a magnetic tape recorder, and completing a record in only a few days or weeks.

Thankfully, this effort from Sloucher is reminiscent of that bygone era—one in which melody is tantamount, and a performance sounds like four souls playing together in a space. You can hear the room, breathing. You can hear toes tapping, you can hear the strings buzzing.

Impeccably produced, the songs are precise, clear, warm. Just like that cozy blanket. The drums are mixed loud, the guitars as distorted as Slanted and Enchanted era Pavement, the bass fuzzy and brutal, and the vocals clear and unaffected. It’s everything you could ever hope for from a rock and roll record.

The songs written by Jay Clancy, mastermind behind Sloucher, alternate between sounding like all your favorite records of yesteryear, while also sounding different and fresh and maintaining a sonic space all their own. That’s a remarkable feat in this day and age. There are echoes of ’90s Northwest rock a la Nirvana, glimmers of slacker indie rock like Pavement or Grandaddy, and even tinges of XO era Elliott Smith. But ultimately it just ends up sounding like Sloucher. Familiar and true.

With surgical focus,

Michael Benjamin Lerner

(Photo Credit: Left, Eleanor Petry)

Sloucher began with Jay Clancy (Makeup MonstersCayucasHibou), a drummer looking to try his chops at writing his own songs. After trying his hand as a solo act, Clancy sought a more familiar format—he started a band. Clancy wrote the material that would become Sloucher’s 2016 debut EP, Certainty, and recruited a couple friends to help flesh out recordings—drummer Jack Hamrick and former The Globes guitarist Kyle MusselwhiteTwo years later, the band’s reputation and sound have only grown—the band itself has quite literally grown, adding bassist Lance Umble (Telekinesis, Cumulus, Bod). They’ve landed opening slots for acts like Angel Olsen and Guided By Voices and opened the main stage at the 2017 Sasquatch! Music Festival. Those two years later, they’re releasing what they’re heralding as their first truly collaborative record, Be True, on November 16 via Swoon Records.