Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Slim Kings at the Bowery Electric

Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Michael Sackler-Berner and lead guitarist Henry Geller knew each other in elementary school. Years later, Sackler-Berner was in New York recording music for the television shows Sons of Anarchy and Law and Order and Geller was living in San Francisco and playing live gigs. They connected on FaceBook by “liking” the same YouTube links to Black Keys tracks, Kinks B-sides, and obscure Jimi Hendrix bootlegs. They started sending each other video clips of Gary Clark Jr., Dave Alvin, and the Black Keys. Geller recorded riffs on his iPhone and sent them to Sackler-Berner. Sackler-Berner added melodies and lyrics to the riffs and sent them back to his childhood friend. They exchanged text messages about making a record. Sackler-Berner sent iPhone mp3s of Geller’s playing to drummer Liberty DeVitto, whom he connected with for a session via MySpace two years prior. DeVitto, who has played drums for Billy Joel for the past 30 years, signed on for a couple of days of recording. One month later, the band assembled in Brooklyn at Sackler-Berner’s home studio. Over the next two weeks, the newly named Slim Kings completed basic tracks for their entire debut album, Fresh Socks, and wrote half of the second album, Dirty Socks. In the following months, the band began playing concerts, had a song on the Songs after Sandy, Vol. 2 compilation album, and landed placements on the television series Army Wives, and in the upcoming Daniel Ratcliff movie, Horns. The band has since been rounded with bassist Andy Attanasio.

At the Bowery Electric tonight opening for Ricky Byrd, the Slim Kings showed that the band was more than computer magic. The quartet played modern rock and roll songs with more than a hint of blues influences in both the vocals and the guitar playing. The band paid its dues to classic rock without necessarily sounding derivative of any particular band or sound. By the second song, "Need Me Too," which was the band's own foray into YouTube land, the direction of the band was established; this was a garage band with some smooth finesse. Two songs later, "The Dime Is Mine," the opening track of the band's second album, exuded the confidence of a man who has secured a girlfriend that others want, but also possibly alluded to the confidence of a band in its own organic music. On "My Waterloo," the band worked tightly to achieve a pop sound driven by raw energy. Overall, the band showcased a fresh twist on a vintage backdrop -- bluesy vocals, a wailing guitar and drums pounded so hard that one could wonder how the sticks and skins did not break on every song. The Slim Kings will squeeze in and widen the royal court of rock.

Visit the Slim Kings at www.slimkings.com.