Chris Daly prefers this to “Good Vibrations.”
I was conflicted when I first received a copy of Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes. Earlier this year saw the release of his Places EP, which had spawned the eponymous track that remains one of my favorite jams of the year. Was the kid going to come through with a follow-up knock-out or had the proverbial skeet skeet skeet already run down the theoretical leg? Also, where the hell do I come up with these metaphors and why?
So what’s the best way to make Bad Vibes a worthy successor to Places? Take that self-same track and make it the focal point of the entire album. The LP is awash in what has become Shlohmo’s trademark sound—heavy on the DIY field recordings, but with a sense of connectedness that defies the individual parts. Seriously, it sounds like the young maestro is playing on equipment that came straight from Good Will. Starting with the Eastern inflected “Big Feelings,” that favorite track of mine then anchors a three song suite of what is essentially one long, 70s AM radio groove fest. And while the songs take different shape from there, once that vibe is established, Shlohmo essentially rides it for the duration.
No offense to the naming committee, but Bad Vibes was pretty poorly chosen for this one. These tracks are weekend brunch, pancake grooves—meant to be ingested well-baked shortly after rising, heavy on the syrupy side. Throughout it all, there’s a slightly warped guitar leading the way, backed by mellow synths and vocal grunts and other emotive noises that float in and out of the ether. Shlohmo pretty much rides this sunny wave of early morning bliss throughout, deviating only a few times towards the end on “Trapped in a Burning House” and “Get Out.” Pretty much everything else, from “Parties” to “Seriously,” will get you out of bed with a smile on your face, but may or may not pack the additional energy required to actually get your ass out the door.
Perhaps of greater import to the young beathead’s blooming career, Shlohmo accomplishes what the best beat albums have—he infuses it with an unmistakable personality that’s sticky with his own fingerprints. That instant recognizability is what sets the greats apart. While it may still be a tad early to put Shlo in the rarefied air, Bad Vibes certainly inches him that much closer to the summit.
MP3: Shlohmo- “Places”