Boston four piece Wildcat Slim makes music that lives somewhere between the sweat and confetti of an Andrew W.K. bacchanal and the laidback, pop-friendly feel of country artists like Jake Owen or Dierks Bentley. On their self-titled debut album Wildcat Slim serves up an exuberant blend of folk, rock, and country that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
At its best, Wildcat Slim is catchy, technically impressive, and over-the-top. “Kickin It” has a velvet-smooth bassline and deliciously raw funk sax and horns that barely distract from a string of hilariously terrible “kick” puns and a guitar solo that outstays its welcome by a long shot. By way of contrast, “Dirt Farmer” is a fresh-faced, easygoing country ballad that has one of the album’s stronger vocals performances, and probably its catchiest chorus. “St. Paddy’s Day in Boston” is another standout, painting an endearing portrait of Boston’s most drunken holiday before doubling the tempo and careening into the sound of breaking glass to end the song.
Unfortunately, Wildcat Slim shines much more brightly in its individual songs than as a whole record. The band’s bombast and rambunctious energy on tracks like “What The Hell?” or “Wanted By The Law” is easy to love, but quickly grows tiresome. As a whole, the record can feel like a CBS multicam: crowd-pleasing, professionally produced, and at times genuinely funny, but so risk-averse as to court cynical dismissal. While the musicians are obviously skilled, the songwriting on this record hits all the marks of a fun, funky party band with deadly accuracy. Songs that end with feedback? Check. Lyrical tropes (see, “I sold my soul,” “I joked with the devil,” “never going home”)? Yes. An endless stream of free-jazz guitar solos? Absolutely. Sure, most of these songs are ideal for houseparty headbanging, but the record’s decidedly unchallenging brand of funk-rock makes the party a whole lot less fun.
In short, Wildcat Slim is a debut that speaks much more to what this band could do than what they’ve done. The band seems to be much more interested in living in the moment than pushing the envelope, and that certainly doesn’t make them any less talented or worth a listen. Wildcat Slim is clearly built for live performance, not for private listening. Despite this fact, a little experimentation could go a long way.
- Great playing on many of the tracks
- “Kickin It” and “Dirt Farmer” find the band at its best
- Album art that reflects their sound very well
- Predictable songwriting
- Too many similar-sounding guitar solos
- Not enough variety between songs