Slow Burning Car is a rock band based out of LA. The band is made up of Troy Spiropoulos (lead vocals & bass), Zak St.John (Drums/backing vocals), Steve Ornest (lead/rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Krista Ray (backing/lead vocals), Tommy Marcel (guitar/backing vocals) and Aaron Kusterer (on guitar as well). With a lot of strings, the band released a brand new album titled “Projection” on January 1st 2021. We took a listen and here’s our review!
The album kicks off with “Public Cynic”, the track begins with some sort of fake rally audio straight in with a riff before going back to the fake rally before the vocals kick in. A total punky vibe, occasionally smacks of the Ramones but with much more flair (we guess). There’s some mention of social distancing, which means its topical! The vocals are a little hard to make out at times but this is by no means easy listening, a lot of concentration required to take in the various elements scattered around here. Nice shuffle groove pre-solo shy of the three minute mark. Frankly, this track is a minute too long. An okay start.
Track two is “Lad-Ish Man”, an interesting title. Distorted guitars choc full of compression kick this off, shared vocals on this. The lyrics “far too young to touch” raises an eyebrow. It seems like a lot has gone into this one musically, but in terms of the lyrical content it’s half-baked. The performance vocally is very impressive shared between Troy and Krista otherwise. Drums and bass are locked together but somewhat drowned out by the vast array of strings. The guitar solo has moments which sound kinda borrowed from Steve Vai but otherwise a tasteful performance. If the previous track was a minute too long, this one is at least three minutes too long.
“Diamond In The Rough” is up next. This one begins a little AC/DCish, but the groove got us nodding along. The whole band sounds absolutely tight throughout this track, possibly our favourite so far. It picks up and drops right off at the exact right moments. At 1:51 we were expecting it to kick off but it didn’t. The vocals really needed to scream and explode in the chorus, but it didn’t and it was so disappointing. The guitar solo got lost in the mix at certain parts. Towards the end we begin to notice Slow Burning Car has a habit of repeating the track title to finish their songs thus far. A lot of potential this track had, as is the title this really is a diamond in the rough – a little more time on the cutting room floor and this would be a solid 10/10. W
Following this, we’ve got “Funnybone”. A really weird start and transition into this one. A hard listen. This sounds like a B-side from a “Faster Pussycat” record. What we assume to be the pre-chorus has lyrics about paying rent. Next to no phrasing in the solo which is somewhat disappointing but then this song kind-of is. There’s a good performance from the vocals post-solo. If we’re blunt, this is a mess.
Picking up the pace again with “Memoirs of a Gentleman Ghost” – though it never appeared to drop. What the hell is this intro? What do you mean it comes back again periodically? This makes zero sense, its not very interesting. This rollercoaster ride of an album keeps going up and quite frankly, its exhausting. Good lord that talking thing just won’t quit. Is this meant to be the ghost? We can’t hear the vocals underneath when that’s going. There’s some strings in the background from around 3-mins onwards but they do very little to salvage this.
“The Quantum Mariner” comes up next and its more of the same but with breaks.
There is what appears to be a change of pace with “Seems So Nice” – very true. This is a much needed breath of fresh air. The main vocals might be a smidge too high up in the mix. It builds up around the two minute mark, nice. We’ve still got another four minutes to go, and there’s some promise with some clean chorus guitars. It totally pays off, this is amazing. Killer amongst the filler. Very tasteful guitar solo with a great chord progression underneath which totally works. Slow Burning Car totally nail it with “Seems So Nice”. Bravo.
We’ve got a solid 9 minute-er with “Gardens in Space”. A mild case of Don-Felderitus which works. Expectations of a solid jazz piece are quickly dashed only to but the ethereal tones of this tune appear to work. Imagine if Tame Impala hung out with the Beatles, spoke briefly to Dave Grohl and got David Gilmour to play a couple of bits. That summarises the experience of this track. A bit more interesting than just a background tune but certainly chill enough to put on in the background, you’ll just find yourself saying “check this bit out!”. A good effort and we’re pretty impressed that these folks can make nine minutes go by without any sense of gruelling. Nice.
The penultimate track, “Meraki” begins with Mother Nature making a special guest appearance followed by acoustic guitar. We unfortunately can’t understand a single word of the lyrics but the melody sounds pretty cool. There’s a great build up throughout this track, you’ve just got to shut up and listen. For us, this slow climbdown in terms of track vibes was worth the carnage of the earlier tracks. A very well done track.
Last up we have T3, otherwise known as “Transfer Terminal Twelve”. A lot of volume swelling to begin and some tonal characteristics we’re half expecting to turn into a massive synthwave anthem. Well its still building up at a little over a minute in. Starting to get a little old as we near two minutes. More elements coming in, some cymbals. Just over two minutes, almost two and a half, nothing of major significance has happened. As we listen on, we’re disappointed thoroughly. We’re not entirely sure what was meant to be achieved with this, no discernible chord progression or actual melody, just a noisy end that didn’t move us – much.
Overall “Projection” is a well mixed (mostly) and mastered album with a wide array of big tones, a lot of energy. It is certainly a rollercoaster ride of emotion, if that rollercoaster was straight up for almost half an hour before coming down ever so slightly then staying the same and then throwing you miles away. The drums sound killer for the tracks they are on, big and punchy. Three guitars works for Paramore but doesn’t really for Slow Burning Car, bar a few tracks. Vocal wise, they hold up OK however (as we said before) there have been times where we were really expecting much more out of the performance and it didn’t come to fruition which was a bit disappointing. Composition wise, apart from tracks 7, 8 & 9, nothing really intuitive or “out of the box”. The first six tracks were mostly attempts at punk and a certain air of “edginess” which was anything but.
Nonetheless, it is important to note here that we get a strong sense that a lot of hard work was put into this album and (at times) it shows. It is a decent effort, although the album doesn’t really get a thumbs up from us – we wholeheartedly recommend “Seems So Nice”, “Gardens in Space” and “Meraki”. These tracks are killer amongst the rest of the filler.