SEPTEMBER 18, 2003
RED Reviews
By Janean Parker, Eryn Green


Close My Eyes
The Slackers
Hellcat Records

(out of 5)

New York City's The Slackers has delivered another tasty serving of ska gumbo. For 12 years, the band's many members have been pleasing listeners with a musical melange of ska, reggae, soul, swing, garage rock and jazz. Their seventh album, Close My Eyes, continues the trend of excellence, adding 12 new songs to the band's impressive catalogue.

Repeating chords and an upbeat tempo lend ska its infectiously happy sound, but beneath The Slackers' joy lurk lyrics of many moods—not all of them cheerful. Those familiar with The Slackers will not be surprised by the range of emotions contained within the album. From the lighthearted "Axes" to the truly heartbreaking "Mommy," many feelings come through. Ironically, "Mommy" sounds the happiest of all album’s songs, yet deals with the saddest of all the topics: a mother's death.

“It was just a shit of a year,” said Vic Ruggiero, The Slackers’ lead singer, in a press release, “a couple of years—rough times with family and at the same time they’re attacking NYC.”

Even with all the recent difficulties, this isn't an angry band. The most overt expression of frustration on the album is heard in the song "Real War," an open denouncement of the United States’ recent choice to go to war. If you look at the cover of this album, you will see a girl sitting with closed eyes, her back to the television and newspaper, both bearing photos of the WTC disaster. The title of the album was taken from Jack Kerouac's “Visions of Gerard:” “All I gotta do is close my eyes and it all goes away.”

As Vic said in a recent interview, members of The Slackers enjoy making “concept albums…not just a collection [of songs].” As such, Close my Eyes must be a musical chronicle of The Slackers’ trials and triumphs of the past two years.


In Reverie
Saves the Day
Dreamworks Records

(out of 5)

The members of Saves the Day, the Princeton, N.J.-based emotionally surreal quartet who saved high school for a segment of disenfranchised youths, are concerned.

But that’s not really news to any fans of the band.

Indeed, the band members have amassed quite a reputation for being concerned—be it with the girl next door, like on the sophomore album I’m Sorry I’m Leaving, or for the safety of their own mortality following a nearly fatal car crash in 1999. And fans have come to expect such concern.

It is that expectation that may cause In Reverie, the Rob Schnaff (Weezer, Beck, Saves the Day)-produced follow-up to 2000’s critically and commercially successful Stay What You Are, to throw some stalwarts for a loop.

The album—which is a complex juxtaposition of ambient beats and highly infectious, melodic pop sounds—is a very mature progression of the band’s earlier vision. Incorporated are all of the Jawbreaker and Bukowski influences, only with a life-altered facelift that should be praised for its musical bravery.

Developed as an optimistic concept album—less a departure than an homage to their earlier work—In Reverie essentially means “in dreaming,” and is a very apt title. The album splits itself seemingly between the waking world and the dream world, along the line of demarcation created by the album’s title track.

The songs before include the catchy “Anywhere with You” and are well-constructed, imaginative pop songs.

The songs after “In Reverie,” however, impressively mix surreal, sensory-exploitative sounds and dream-derived imagery, topped off by lead singer Chris Conely’s soaring voice. The tracks “She” and ‘Tomorrow Too Late” are among the best on the album and affix the band safely to the style of their contemporaries and tourmates, Dashboard Confessional and Moneen. It’s a smooth sound born of sincerity and unpredictability that sounds most like, well, hallucinatory punk.

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Damn Fine







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