Slick Shoes started as a high school skate punk band in Southern California during the early 1990s, taking the west coast punk rock scene by storm. The last time the band released an original album in 2003, MySpace was a primary music marketing platform.
Fast forward 17 years, and this Tooth and Nail artist reconvenes with original members and it sounds like they never stopped.
Rotation and Frequency opens with “Whispers,” a slow-building opener that sets the tone for the album musically with Joe Nixon going crazy on drums. Thematically, a message of searching for and finding hope is established out of the gate.
I lost my hope and fell so far
Somehow, I landed in your arms
“Carry This” is a song about learning the hard way that we need connection and community with other humans to help us get through difficult times. Slick Shoes introduces distortion and tempo changes between verse and chorus to add variety in the sound, while continuing to maintain the quick tempo and driving melodies.
Swing and ska are the close cousins of punk rock, so it is fitting that some jazz vibes are featured on “The Worlds Were Mine.” This is where bassist Jeremiah Brown shines as he lays down grooves in a bass heavy tune.
Green Day influences are evident on “Waiting,” a track that is among the most lyrically impressive on the project, asking an important question for any seeker and wanderer on this earth.
I’m running home but I’ve never felt this cold
I won’t let go
Will I ever feel at home?
Rotation and Frequency is relentlessly aggressive in delivery of fast-paced punk rock. “Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe” and “Always Have (Enough)” are continuations of solid hooky guitars by Jackson Mould and on point vocals provided by Ryan Kepke.
The best track musically on the album, one that makes you stop everything and pay full attention, is “Held by Hope.” This tune is the best of Slick Shoes wrapped up in one song. It starts with a captivating shred from guitarist Jackson Mould, and shifts into Ryan Kepke showing off his vocal range. Perhaps more impressive is how tight and together the band is despite various time signature changes and transitions throughout the tune.
Melodic and technically sound guitar work continues on “Under It,” “Moments,” and “2008” while the theme shifts a bit from songs of seeking and finding hope to songs about human connection. The first lyrics from “2008” are about navigating a relationship.
I thought I knew just how my heart would receive you.
Now I see this means more than I can know
It’s made my heart explode.
Slick Shoes never really takes their foot off the gas on this album– there is not a slow song on this project. The closing track, “I Forget The Words,” is a late 90s throwback punk rocker with perfect harmonies and staccato, rhythmic instrumentals.
Overall, Rotation and Frequency is upbeat, hooky and nostalgic west coast punk rock laced with highly technical guitars, driving bass, skillful drums and melodic harmonies.