Generally it’s not my style to ask you to buy an album. I tell you what I think, and then you make up your own mind. That’s the way it should be. This time, however, I am going to make an exception in the case of the Philadelphia band Slo-Mo. The reason is simply this; I want to see this band live. For a number of years, in which the band has produced three wonderful albums, I have wanted to see Slo-Mo live. The problem is, jobs, family responsibilities, and other commitments have kept the band from playing outside of Eastern Pennsylvania. Yes, I could take the 90 minute drive to Philadelphia to see them play, but I just haven’t been able to work that out. Besides, I want you to see them too. I want them to come to your city. So I figure if we all go out and buy their new album, Gimme What You Got, they’ll have enough money to tour the world. And even if they don’t, it’s a really good album.
At the core of Slo-Mo is the somewhat unlikely partnership of Mike ‘Slo-Mo’ Brenner, a virtuoso steel guitar player, and a rapper named Mic Wrecka. Together with their band, including vocalist Susan Rosetti, they make some of the more interesting sounds you’re likely to hear these days. For such a talented musician, Brenner has had a tendency to keep his playing understated in the past, allowing the band to create a nice funky, somewhat mellow groove as a back drop for Mic Wrecka’s imaginative, uplifting messages. This time out, Brenner makes it known from the opening track, “Skanky”, that he’s a force to be reckoned with as he unleashes the most torrid playing he’s ever recorded. “County” is another song in this musical vein as Brenner lays down a wicked riff over the martial drumbeat of Mark Schreiber, and Wrecka describes the drama of lockup.
Brenner opens “Baby, Say Goodbye” with a gentle country pattern played on dobro before handing the stage to Rosetti whose voice reminds me of the purple majesty of Prince in the ’80s. Then Wrecka enters with a plea to his loved one to end a faltering relationship before it gets any uglier. It’s a heartbreaker that’s presented in a more grown up fashion than we’re used to hearing in breakup songs from the latest teen sensation.
Mic Wrecka is one of the top MCs out there. If he were a comedian, you’d say he works clean. He has no need to use any of the popular tactics that hip-hop artists use to get attention. There are no gangstas, or guns, or bling. There is no talk of bitches or ho’s. His message is powerful and positive. For those reasons and many more, the album’s final track, “Safe 2 Go,” is troubling. In the song, Wrecka presents his last will and testament as a man who appears to be leaving not only the band, but his very life.
Do me a favor, get this album, and while you’re at it, get the older ones too. Maybe then we can all get to see Slo-Mo live in our own cities. Gimme What You Got is available from the Authentic Records Online Store. Slo-Mo’s album release party is Saturday, September 12 at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia with special guests the Fractals, and Adam and Dave’s Bloodline.