I am never sure what to say when confronted with a band like Small Leaks Sink Ships. I understand it, I recognize some of the influences, but I’m not sure if it totally works in today’s music scheme. Our society has become much more immediate and instant gratification is the buzz word of the day. I admit, I am guilty of it too. Especially when I am listening to a band I am not familiar with. I want a payoff and I want it quickly. It is difficult to sit through a minute or more of sound effects and frankly noise before a song actually begins and another 30 seconds or more before we actually get into the song. That is what I was confronted with while listening to their newest release “Face Yourself, and Remove Your Sandals”. This Portland, Oregon four piece unit is probably 30 years behind itself. Had I listened to this record in the mid 1970’s or early 1980’s I would have thought they were great, picking up on the traditions of Pink Floyd and 10cc and some of the other art rock heroes of the day but today in 2015, it just sounds tired and unfocused. If I knew the band or was familiar with their inner circle, I might feel differently but I am not. I am sure the band’s name is a cool inside joke of some sort and the title of the album is also germane to their being but as an outsider, I don’t get it and am a little offended by being on the outside looking in.
Again, if I had heard this album many, many years ago, my attitude might be different but for today, the melodies seem overly complex and the chord structures overly ambitious for a modern audience. Don’t misunderstand, I am not advocating “four bar grids of ‘cut and paste’ monotony over which someone writes shallow nursery rhymes about partying, trucks and beer or bitches and bling, or whines in hardly rhyming verse about their sad little white boy or girl life”*. Far from it. This band has potential but I would recommend that they focus themselves on the music they want to create and get in touch with their core influences and stop trying to impress themselves with their music.
If there is an inside joke to the band name, or album title, or a “raison d’être” to the music, let us all in on it. It might help win a broader audience.
* an excerpt from a recent letter from music producer Bob Ezrin complaining about today's music business.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.