Houston Music

Soular Slide

Some have described Houston's Soular Slide as "kind of a jam band." Maybe. But it definitely doesn't peddle the kind of hippy-dippy jammin' typically associated with the term. The tie-dye crowd would look pretty stupid swaying in place while Too Tasty for Color TV, Soular Slide's debut, was pumping out of the speakers.

It's not that the band isn't proficient, not by a long shot. It's just that Too Tasty is so clean and efficient -- not a bit of grime or extravagance anywhere -- that the guys end up sounding like pop jazzers, not Phish disciples. From the first false rasp of Shawn Pander's voice on "Ain't Nothin'," a tale of an unnecessarily wicked woman's view of love, one knows that Soular Slide is supposed to be slick.

But after a few listens, the air of über-contrivance wears off and some tongue-in-cheek humor begins to emerge, opening up the possibility that Soular Slide is aware of the cheese factor involved in peddling Jamiroquai-esque funk to the masses and that it has chosen its path with purpose. Such self-awareness is a virtue that not only allows you to (almost) overlook Too Tasty's college project-level production values -- the CD never quite reaches three dimensions -- but also brings an ear-to-ear smile when projected onto such numbers as "Tough Guy" and "Super Sexy." No big surprises here, mind you. The first is a song about a pleasantly badass dude who moves into town and can't stop people's faces from running into his fists, while the latter is a paean to a, well, super sexy lass of passing acquaintance. Both tales are cleverly written and supported by music capable of starting some motion.

"Play the Role" and its reggae-flavored stylings offer a somewhat more "mature" look at love, akin to the aforementioned "Ain't Nothin'," while the closing pair of "Katy" and "Never Free" come and go without leaving much of an impression. All in all, however, Soular Slide has put together a debut that hints at a great deal of commercial and artistic potential.

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Chris Smith