With their second LP, entitled ‘Everyone Else’, we finally get an answer to the question of who besides current fans should be listening to Slothrust. The New York-based trio of Leah Wellbaum (vocals/guitar), Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums) are back to expand further upon their genre-bending brand of hard-nosed rock and roll.
Slothrust start out ‘Everyone Else’ by punching you in the mouth with ‘Surf Goth’, an instrumental left-hook that quickly and resolutely puts the listener back on their heels with driving rhythm and a razor-sharp lead riff. One of their biggest talents is to lure you in with sweet, clean jazz and blues riffs before curtly ripping the rug out from underneath in transition.
This is exactly how it goes on ‘Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone’, which punctuates its more aggressive moments with bright strumming and playful soloing reminiscent of something Brian May would turn out in his prime, bolstered by the stout rhythm section laying the foundation. The record’s centerpiece is ‘Horseshoe Crab’, in which the initially down-tempo and reserved instrumentation highlights Leah Wellbaum’s voice. The song crescendos to a massive chorus before receding, a crashing wave fit to reflect the aquatic symbolism present throughout. ‘Trial and Error’ and ‘Sleep Eater’ offer similar opportunities for Slothrust to get delicate and put Wellbaum’s vocals on top.
Genre becomes a dirty word the deeper you go into ‘Everyone Else’, as Slothrust have managed to combine elements of blues, jazz, punk, grunge, and garage into a cohesive many-headed beast ranging from upbeat (‘Pigpen’) to grim and bitter (‘Pseudo Culture’). ‘Mud’ features a series of spooky, effect-laden garage riffs from Wellbaum that conjure images of both go-go dancers and haunted castles. In the meandering saga ‘The Last Time I Saw My Horse’, even a twinge of doo-wop shows through. Admittedly ‘Everyone Else’ is a little all over the place, but by design, and stops just short of feeling sloppy.
It becomes clear fairly quickly that ‘Everyone Else’ is the Leah Wellbaum Show. Her varied guitar work paired with her vocal delivery, which drips with irritation and colorful symbolism, draws all of the attention. This isn’t to detract from Bann and Gorin, though, who give the music its weight by putting power behind the punch or carrying it gently when called for. Overall, ‘Everyone Else’ shows Slothrust expanding their spectrum and sanding down the edges of their sound.