Sluff is Seattle three piece Naked Giants’ debut album, being released on April 14th by New West Records. First formed in 2015, this is their first release since their debut EP R.I.P. I’ve gotta be honest here, I’d not heard of the band before but was instantly grabbed by their description of “post-punk, grunge and alternative rock”. Also knowing it was recorded with producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Soundgarden and the likes) behind the wheel, it really made me prick up my ears.
Despite its title, Sluff (interpret that as you will, I’m a nurse so say no more), is a balls to the wall rock and roll party! With oodles of retro vibes, cool riffs and ridiculously infectious choruses you feel like you’ve kinda heard all the songs before. But what Naked Giants do very cleverly is mix it up with a modern garage sound and make it very much their own.
“Dead Alien” kicks off the album exceptionally well. Groovy, trippy bass hooks provided by Gianni Aiello get obliterated by Grant Mullen’s scuzzy guitar riffs and Henry La Vallee’s rhythmic drumming. These fused with Grant’s candied punk vocals immediately tell you exactly what this band’s about.
“We’re Alone” steps it up a notch or two with a more vintage 60s vibe and sing a long choruses (think The Beatles “Day Tripper”) with just enough grunge infused to keep it original and up to date. I promise you you’ll be singing along to it long after the record’s finished.
The party continues with floor filler and latest video release (see below), “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows)”. Another gratifying garage rock track laced with enough 1950s vibes that it could be on the set of “Happy Days” – remember Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”? That’s exactly the image this track conjures up.
Just when you think you’ve got this album summed up, the deliciously post-punk “TV” turns things completely on their head. Naked Giants visit their darker side. A sinister, catchy bass rhythm is dominant with more of a psyche – rock feel to this number, it becomes trippy and distorted midway with captivating guitar solos and ominous drumming giving it a real edge. Album highlight for me.
“Slow Dance II” lets the band show off more of their diversity. A sensual, stripped back ballad leaves everyone well, naked I guess. No hiding in this sublime number, Grant’s vocals range from dreamy and smooth to angsty and screaming almost, beautifully backed by weeping guitar solos – it’s a glorious listen.
In contrast “Slide” brings the funk. The most punk-like track off the album has Grant slaying his audacious vocal duties, it’s pure unadulterated garage rock. Title track “Sluff” follows and bolsters their more grunge-y side. Laced with heavier guitar hooks and a chorus just screaming for audience participation, it’s another top track for me.
Tracks 8 and 9 are quirky “Goldfish I” and “Goldfish II”. Part one being made up from trippy soundscapes, a transient bass and distorted vocals, it reminded me of The Doors. It’s in no rush to go anywhere and it doesn’t need to, just lie back and absorb the sublime sounds. Part two, in complete contrast, has a groove that you cannot ignore, it’ll pull you out of your slumber. This feel continues through “Dat Boi” with a foot stomping rhythm section laden with punk rock attitude it’s an exuberant number.
“Easy Eating” has a rock n’ roll swagger all of its own, before the epic “Shredded Again” closes the album. An acoustic psyche-rock track again sees the band stripped back to their most vulnerable and they take it all in their stride. It’s a dark and funny number that we can all relate to after one of those particularly heavy nights.
Sluff is a great garage rock album by a band that very much know where they’re going. From balls out rock n’ roll to stripped back acoustic numbers, Naked Giants have put together an impressive debut album. A couple of tracks may run a little longer than necessary but I love this nonconformity and brashness in their commitment. They exuberate confidence in their sound and this oozes throughout. It’s quirky and fun, go and buy it!
Upcoming UK tour dates:
- May 16 – Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre
- May 18 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 ABC
- May 19 – Liverpool, UK @ Invisible Wind Factory
- May 21 – Cambridge, UK @ Junction 2
- May 22 – Bristol, UK @ SWX
- May 23 – London, UK @ Roundhouse