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Culture Shock

A Beginner's Guide to The Slaps

If you’re a fan of clean structures, sing-song breakdowns, nostalgia for and the
occasional sunshine-inducing doo-wop reference, you won’t want to miss seeing The
Slaps at Culture Shock. The Chicago-based group consists of three musicians, Rand Kelley (lead vocals and guitar), Ramsey Bell (bass), and Josh Resing (drums).

Their origins can be traced to DePaul University where they formed and jammed at house shows, leading to a quick establishment of notoriety in, and support from, the Chicago indie scene with their self-described “beach blues rock.” The trio’s sound can indeed be bluesy, with the vocal line remorsefully following almost jazzy chord changes and the laid back percussive elements found in “Still Dreaming Yesterday”, or closer to surf-rock with reverb-friendly guitar and synth features heard in “Good Call”, both tracks found on their 2018 Singles release.

This weekend, we expect to hear music from The Slaps’ most recent release A, an EP built of five tracks with undeniable lyrical emotion, and percolating with the DIY element that can be found in their previous Susan’s Room and Singles projects, just buffed and shined up a bit. Each song can stand individually and separately from each other, utilizing the previously constructed alt-rock sound but employing some striking moments, such as the introduction of an electronically driven “Interlude.” “Houses”, a song on an older project of Kelley’s and rerecorded for the EP, is summery in sound but lonesome in lyrics, which deliver a vague past-tense account of sunsets, togetherness, and poor timing. Kelley’s voice is a sweet type of gritty and authentic, naturally rasping and occasionally breaking, almost in a conversational manner. This organic sound is often accompanied by a warm, treble-strong guitar which plays with internal rhythm to reveal supple bass lines, as heard in the track “Cheers,” which starts languidly before working up to what can easily be described as a bop but continuing to take moments to pause explore space.

Overall the music is whimsical, dreamy, comforting but not predictable. The Slaps assure their audience that they are “something you’ve never heard before with a little something familiar.”


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