After having played in the Regina area for the last two years, the country and alternative rock band Slim City Pickers have released a self-titled album unlike anything else.
A member of south Saskatchewan’s burgeoning country-rock scene, the Slim City Pickers are fairly well known in the Regina area.
The Slim City Pickers are a five-piece contingent made up of bass guitarist and vocalist Dick Yeates, electric and acoustic guitarists Orin Paquette and Andy Beisel, vocalist and pedal steel and acoustic guitarist Ian Cameron and drummer Tristan Helgason. The five musicians bring together a variety of talents that make the band’s sound completely unique.
Composed of only 10 songs, Slim City Pickers is a fast paced jaunt through a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks. The album conveys a sense of frantic urgency as Cameron’s pedal steel guitar sets an echoing but quick tune in many of the tracks.
The record opens with what is by far my favourite track of the entire album, “You Belong To Me.” It opens with the slow strumming of an acoustic guitar which picks up only to be joined by Cameron’s steel guitar. As the two mix, in comes the soft crooning of the lyrics: “This town is deserted/ Haven’t seen anyone in a while/ I sit here waiting and I got a thing to fake a smile.” The band sings before the drums and bass kick in for the rest of the song. The mournful nature of the lyrics plays in perfect contrast to the upbeat tempo. It gives a taste of what is to come and more importantly it sets the mood for the songs which follow.
While overall the album is a non-stop ball of energy there are two low points that severely impact the quality of the album.
“Down the Hatch” and “Song for Paige” are the two instrumental tracks on the album and unlike the songs that feature vocals, they seem to have something missing. The music itself is strong, but the lack of some sort of leading vocals just leaves the listener wanting more.
This is a particular shame as on every track the band’s quartet of vocalists are strong and offer a beautiful contrast with the pace of the band’s instrumentals.
“No Good Man” is another highlight of the album. It is one of the slower songs of the recording but that does not mean that it doesn’t carry with it a lot of energy. While the lyrics of the song are stereotypically country — “No good women/ To hold at night/ No good women/ To treat me right” — the music carries with it numerous notes of rock and roll.
For fans of country, the Slim City Pickers’ self-titled album will be a breath of fresh air. Combining a mixture of country, alternative rock and psychedelic tones, it is a compelling but limited audio experience.
The Regina-based band is able to display a mature and well-developed sound across its short but well put together album. While the album’s strong country themes are its biggest strength, its most glaring weakness is the unfortunate fact that the limited nature of its sound may be unable to draw in any new fans to the genre.
Yet the biggest problem about this album is not that Slim City Pickers sticks to its country roots, but that at only 10 songs, its weakest tracks leave such large holes that it reduces the overall quality of the album.
The fact that this otherwise strong debut is marred by such significant issues does not leave me disheartened about one of Regina’s most promising acts. I am instead hopeful that the problems will be fixed before an anticipated second album.