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Selected Brushings with the Press

Description from Midheaven Mailorder (Revolver):

"The debut release from JAY CHILCOTE (REVOLUTIONARY HYDRA, writer of DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE's "The Face That Launched A Thousand Shits") under the SLOMO RABBIT KICK moniker. An engaging and unique sixteen-track blend of imaginative Guided By Voices-like pop, blended with conceptual instrumental pieces, odd sounds, and acoustic, vocal-only projections. Performed with guitar, Farfisa, banjo, accordion, bicycle horns, and meowing cats. Mixed by CHRIS WALLA (DCFC) at the Hall of Justice."

April '05 Erasing Clouds reviews Hortatory EP "Man's routine is to work and to dream / pretending that he likes what he does...", Slomo Rabbit Kick guitarist/vocalist Jay Chilcote sings. Based on their 5-song EP Hortatory Examinations, Slomo Rabbit Kick are putting forth another way, an alternative to the workaday world. Theirs is based on turning your guitars up loud and playing catchy pop-rock songs that bounce along with a melodic buzz, while containing lyrics that praise rebellion and independence of thought, decrying conformity, greed, and selfishness. They intwine a general feeling of fun, that rock n' roll freedom thing, with occasionally incisive social commentary (especially on the final two tracks, "This Long Parade" and "Pseudo-Science"), and do a decent, if not always show-stopping, job of it. - dave heaton"
Jan '05

Schmat Records reviews Hortatory EP. "When it rains rabbits, it POURS rabbits! Look at all these lapine influenced bands, Gram Rabbit, Hem (their Rabbit Songs CD), Men In Fur, Shmat Records' own Hrududu Factory, and of course Slomo Rabbit Kick. I was a big fan Slomo's earlier "Bass Monster Lives In The Bass Forest" album and fans of that album will no doubt dig their Hortatory Examinations EP. Funny and twitchy lyrics surrounded by great indie pop with an edge is a good enough summation of their stuff. The songs on the EP do seem to ring a little less lo-fi than Bass Monster, and one wonders if that has anything to do with DCFC's Chris Walla engineering bits o' the drumming.
Jay Chilcote has one of the most recognizable voice fingerprints in indie rock that I know of; an often slow lazy drawl that speaks of days spent lounging of the sofa in old flannel, watching the History Channel (sorry, I stole that rhyme directly from their previous album). He's also a really prolific songwriter, being the main force behind The Revolutionary Hydra and The Dutch Elms. More often than not his voice gets the telephone band pass treatment and it really suits it well. Think of a ressurected Pavement minus Malkmus' insistence on being an all around brat, and with Joana Bolme singing on more of the tracks. I really like the combination of Chilcote's and Anna Lange's vocals; it adds a bit of necessary spice to the tracks.

"Two Timing" starts things off in rip roaring fashion with electronic beats and blips flitting in and out. There's something almost 80s about a few of the songs, including "Smell Casino" which reminds me of The Rentals plus Imperial Teen. "Man's Routine Is To Work and To Dream" has a bit more discordant jangle in the guitar chords, which is sort of an underrated trademark of Slomo. They certainly aren't afraid to explore other alternative key structures though they always rein it in so the song isn't lost to experimentalism. "This Long Parade" gets a little political and features lines about "shameful carpet-baggers" stretched out on jumpy drumbeats. "Psuedo-Science" mixes a sly bassline with the cliche "You know it's cynical / But you feel like you're the only one". For some reason this lyric reminds me of a Dandy Warhols song. In any case, I had the album on repeat for awhile and didn't even notice. It's really good; and hooray for rabbits!"

Nov '04

Mundane Sounds: I'm sure you're curious as to what kind of a band would call itself a name like "Slomo Rabbit Kick". The hilarity evoked by the mental image of a rabbit kicking in slow motion has motivated you to read this review, right?

Well, Slomo Rabbit Kick is a Washington indie pop band, the project of Jay Chilcote, formerly of the Revolutionary Hydra (another interesting band name). I'm not into the Revolutionary Hydra, but I dig Slomo Rabbit Kick. Slomo Rabbit Kick seems to me like the sort of indie pop band a graduate student would start, with intelligent lyrics and communist undertones (check out the cover art featuring a drawing of Asian female revolutionaries). So far, they've released one full-length, Bass Monster Lives In the Bass Forest. On this new EP, they retain the same basic sound they had on the album, which is new wave-tinged indie rock with some Make Up-style funkiness thrown in. Catchy stuff.

While Bass Monster had a little bit of filler, this time around Slomo Rabbit Kick just focus their efforts into five great songs. First is the very new wave "Two Timing", a catchy number with a little bit of Pavementesque abstractness in the lyrics. Verses like "All roads lead to Old Man River, all roads lead to the 70s. All dogs like to lick your face, all dogs like to stand while they pee." lead in to the perfectly straightforward chorus, which justifies the song's title: "I saw you watching me, you seemed to despise. But you're so attracted to me you'd compromise."

After that is "Smell Camino", a song from the soundtrack to a film that John Hughes never made. The second highest point on the EP, it's a very twee concoction evoking the very '80s image of an uncoachable, unapproachable girl with feathered locks who holds even the jocks in her thrall. The title is named after the type of car that she drives. Great female backing vocals on this one really sell it.
The middle song is "Man's Routine Is to Work and to Dream", a song about the futile predicament that many people seem to face, which is being stuck in a dead-end job that they can only pretend to like. I told you there were communist undertones. For me, this is very depressing subject material, but the arrangement, with awesome indie virtuoso guitar playing reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr., makes it easier to cope.

"This Long Parade", the fourth song, is worth the entire CD. According to the press release, this track, recorded and released before the presidential election, is based on a conversation with a "security mom" who wanted to vote for Kerry, but had misgivings. In the context of Bush's re-election, this song assumes a special poignancy. The lyrics reflect an scared electorate willing to support "this long parade of shameful carpetbaggers" to feel more secure, even though they know that it's really hurtful and counterproductive. With the outcome of the election, lyrics like "give the rich a tax break and tell the poor it's for their sake" and "happiness comes to those who have no fear, but there's a catch: cuz when you're god-fearing you have to fear everything" seem all the more powerful. It's like an indie pop version of the classic singing journalist style of Phil Ochs. Buy the EP just for this song. If you're a left-leaning college radio DJ, you'll want to play this song over and over again until America pays attention to the lyrics and realizes what a moron it has been.

The last track is "Pseudo-Science", a catchy piece of abstract lyrical ridiculousness. It's a good song, but with lyrics like "brandish your pseudo-science, proves a nasty reliance on the things you feel, your love is a banana peel", I guess it does sound trivial after the powerful "This Long Parade". Still, it ends the EP on a fun note. Besides, after these great fourteen and a half minutes, you'll definitely want to go back and listen to "Smell Camino" and "This Long Parade!" --Eric Wolf

Nov. '04 Baby Sue: Slomo Rabbit Kick returns with another fine collection of tunes. Hortatory Examinations is short...clocking in at just over fifteen minutes...but those fifteen minutes contain some great low fidelity pop music with a difference. Slomo is mainly a one-man band consisting of Jay Chilcote...plus a few friends lending helping hands. The five tracks on this EP are simple and direct...offering alternative pop/rock that would not have sounded out of place in the 1980s. The songs are slightly reminiscent of bands like Let's Active and The Television Personalities. Chilcote's subtle voice is a major piece of the puzzle...his hushed vocals are perfectly suited for the material he writes. Cool cuts include "Two Timing," "Smell Camino," and "Pseudo-Science." Cool stuff. (Rating: 5)
Nov. '04

KJHK: If album art is any indication of what is to be heard, then "Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest" evokes an air of a highly imaginative illustrated children's book... specifically "Where the Wild Things Are." Slomo Rabbit Kick delivers 17 little diddies that are sure to delight the inner child of any indie-rocker.
Frontman Jay Chilcote -- renowned for writing Death Cab For Cutie's
"The Face That Launched 1000 Shits" -- belts out a lyrical bazaar dripping with irony equal to that of Pavement. The listener is introduced to a bass monster who lives in a bass forest chasing "The Most Beautiful Girl He's Ever Known." Such short story portraits permeate the album, such as "Nikolai's" tale of pretending to be a starving Russian just to score with an art school girl.
"Bass" is the latest collection of bedtime pop-diddies for hipsters to rest their weary heads. Slomo says it best in "Equality, Urbanity, Fraternity, Humanity" when the "bass monster wants to spread the word... march to Electric Avenue, find some college kids and encourage them to start reviews, dialectical reviews." This college kid argues for everyone to visit the bass forest and appreciate the bombastic and coy delivery. B+, Nick Ray

Dec. '03 Sponic: Rather unsurprisingly, Slomo Rabbit Kick’s fearless leader, Jay Chilcote, has a reading list on the band’s website: a scattershot selection of high art and pulp that dutifully conveys the proper mix for attaining hipster intellectual credentials. I’m not swiping, mind you, I’ve been trying for years to become one. Slomo Rabbit Kick make pleasantly bookish indie rock, slowly trawling out hooks and quiet riffs, making more than a few tracks with unobvious catchiness.

It’s impossible not to hear a little of Stephen Malkmus’ stuffy sinuses in Jay Chilcote’s singing. It would be equally fair to notice Pavement’s high brow topicality in the lyrics delivered with maximum irony including cheeky asides about fonts, “dialectical reviews” and “A-list authors”. It’s clever, sleepy, and intelligently base-covering with songs that have country recline (“I’m an idiot with your idiom”) and others as upbeat as beach balls (“the most beautiful girl he’s ever known”). For some reason I’m reminded of The Decemberists when I hear this record. Not because they sound alike (they don’t), but because both bands seem stocked with raconteurs, intelligent writers who manage to wryly deploy fifty dollar words within sugary dime pop melodies. They also both have a knack for short story portraits like “Nikolai’s” tale of picking up an art school girl by pretending to be Russian. But Slomo Rabbit Kick are punchier, more prone to pop, excelling at tight song thumbnails.

With most of the songs skating by under two minutes, it sometimes seems like they disappear before making a proper impression. If subtlety is your game, you almost need to be a bit more of a tease. Some of the slower numbers like “I’m WYSIWYG now” could easily be Yo La Tengo outtakes if only they would stick around and unfold. They know how to create songs, it’s just that their constant flippance and brevity make much of the album sort of pass through without gaining any permanent traction.

Despite misgivings I have about the album’s overall tendency to “sound like” a grab bag of indie rockers past, I can’t repress my extreme amusement when Chilcote waxes idealistic in “equality, urbanity, fraternity, humanity,” in a tranquilized, cotton fuzzy drone about wanting to see college kids march down to Electric Avenue for a “punk rocker coup.” It’s irony that goes down easy and ultimately an album that has a wordy, coy and roundabout way of solidly earning your appreciation.

Nov. '04 SCTS: On SloMo Rabbit Kick's Hortatory Examinations 5-song EP, the Seattle, Washington four-piece write an album that sounds like an office worker slowly going crazy from his corporate surroundings. Not an album of fist-pumping anthems for the proletariat, mind you, but of slow-burning accounts of corporate milieu and the reality of the working world. With songs such as "Man's Routine Is To Work And To Dream", there isn't overt protest or outright fury, but more a mid-tempo discontent never only partially realized by the album's lyrics. However, the chemical-seared guitars and deadpan, Damon Albarn-esque vocals make this the perfect album for anyone walking to a job they hate. Overall, the album shows excellent potential for a band that would most likely be visceral onstage, but on tape, they feel a bit lukewarm.
Dec. '03

Aversion: Critics have wasted hundreds of thousands of words exploring the tie between the Pacific Northwest's perpetually sweatshirt-gray skies, its love for expensive, made-to-order coffees and its music. Usually, it's a tale of sunlight-deprived rockers spewing grunge bile or weeping indie-rock tears as an alternative to moping about in a seasonal-affective-disorder funk.

Slomo Rabbit Kick's going to put that school of thought into a tailspin.

Formed by The Revolutionary Hydra front man Jay Chicolte, Slomo Rabbit Kick dashes the theories of cloudy-day inspiration against a downright sunshiney mix of indie pop, cotton-candy whimsy and tongue-in-cheek declarations. Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest is, for every atmospheric-geographic reference-point needing critic, a Californian record.

Not literally, as the project, which is mostly Chicolte with a few stabs of backing vocals from Jamie Klein, hails from Seattle, although the ties to the crushed sentimentality of Death Cab For Cutie or the poise of The Revolutionary Hydra, for that matter, are nowhere in sight. Chicolte, instead trots out cheery guitar pop that's one part Beatles melodies, one part post-millennial college rock a la Barsuk Records and one part goofiness. Whether Chicolte weaves a tale of a television-obsessed numnutz hanging out in bookstores to feel smart ('Bookstores'), about an art student?s clumsy and lovable, if transparent, attempts to impress a girl by posing as a Russian national ('Nikolai') or simply dips around with some tape-loop mis-production to call up one of John Lennon?s more stoned moments ('The Shore Road Mystery'), Slomo Rabbit Kick just wants to frolic around in the sunshine with a loving mix of guitar, Farfisa and occasional banjo. Even its more somber moments, it's tough to discern whether Chicolte's tongue is planted in his cheek or not, as with a tale of an injured crow on the side of the road ('Crow').

In the end, it doesn't matter if Chicolte is serious about Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Woods or not, as it?s an album that?s too refreshingly light, especially in a scene where melancholy introspection is more popular than java in Seattle. Slomo Rabbit Kick won't replace Death Cab as the region's favorite target for superlatives (it probably won't even ease the passing of The Revolutionary Hydra, for that matter), but it's still a dose of blue skies that should cheer any fan of indie pop up.

Dec. '03 Bellingham Herald: Add some reverb and Julian Casa-blancas, and the everyone-on-the-eighth-note chug of Slomo Rabbit Kick's "I'm WYSIWYG Now" would be a highlight on The Strokes' new "Room on Fire" CD. Alas, the two bands couldn't be further apart.

Far from fashion-forward New Yorkers, Slomo Rabbit Kick is the brainchild of Seattle's Jay Chilcote, an ex-Bellinghammer of The Revolutionary Hydra and Elsinor Records fame. Its ethos is one of determined ambivalence - the kind of literate, inconsequential indie rock that lost its flavor some time between the mid-1999 release of Pavement's final CD and the late-2000 collapse of useless onliners such as pets.com and drugstore.com.

Start with the concept: A bass monster(?) lives in a bass forest (??) and chases the "Most Beautiful Girl He's Ever Known," who happens to reside in Bellingham (???). After 15 tracks that may or may not further the storyline (the jury's still out on the eight-second keyboard demo called "Spacer. gif"), the monster heads back to hibernation to a tune that directly quote's Pavement's "Summer Babe."

It's cheeky, indecipherable and has no ambitions beyond its current trappings. In a way, it's sorta refreshing. -Tony Stasiak

Dec. '03 Three Imaginary Girls: Just when you thought you'd finalized your top 10 releases for 2003, Slomo Rabbit Kick throws a CD release party for their latest record, "Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest," which features cover art that resembles Where the Wild Things Are and contains a tasty pop-Thanksgiving blast heaping of insanely irreverent indie-rock tunes to enliven your holiday season.

Frontman Jay Chilcote's zany, verging on completely bizarre lyrics evoke a child-like delight that leaves you sufficiently disarmed to enter his strange little world of Russian art students, pooping pigeons, bookstores, History Channels, and HTML editors {the latest appearing in the song "I'm WYSIWYG Now," the stand-out pop-hit-single of the new album}.

His droll vocal delivery sounds like someone is slightly slowing down the LP by placing their finger on it, giving it a charmingly wound-down effect, a delightful dischordancy. With the backbone of support from an incredible rhythm section and quiet little bass chops, those silly lyrics get delivered with an insouciant disregard for formal melodic phrasing, but with a near-mathematical complexity that makes it all logical, in its wacked-out chaos. The songs meander lyrically and technically, but with skilled purpose. As far as I'm concerned, those boys from Slomo have permission to venture down whatever path they want, as it's clear that they know exactly what they're doing and where they're going, no matter how bizarre the trail may appear in the Bass Forest.

The band has such a rich musical history, including of course the incredible Revolutionary Hydra, which Jay drafted what appears to be a Visio flowchart outlining Slomo's involvement with like... every band that's ever existed. I feel Jay could give that Kevin Bacon a run for his money — or at a bare minimum, would have one helluva lot of friends in his Friendster profile, if he chose to set one up.

But you know, I bet he doesn't have a Friendster profile. The band showed a complete lack of pretense to complement their wickedly deadpan sense of deadpan humor. "Thanks for coming to our CD release party," said Jay after the first few songs. "You can tell it's a party cause we're more animated. I think I moved my right shoulder on that last one."

Slomo Rabbit Kick is a little too bizarre to be true popstar mega-masters. I happen to think that's a very good thing.

Nov. '03 NadaMucho: WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) is the acronym used to describe software applications that let just about anybody design a web page using a visual interface. It’s not unlike a word processor - you make the page look pretty and the program does all the dirty work of writing the computer code for you.

In the tenth and pivotal track on the debut album from Bellingham’s SloMo Rabbit Kick, Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest, Jay Chilcote (Revolutionary Hydra) falsely but hopefully proclaims “I’m WYSIWYG now.” If only.

The truth is, Chilcote’s proclamation of forthrightness is betrayed by his confessions throughout much of the rest of the album. As these intelligently written songs tell us, what you see is, in fact, rarely what you get.

The very premise of the album—that it was written and performed by Chilcote’s alter ego, Bass Monster—is about facades. Chilcote cleverly reinforces this premise with lyrics like “My idea of having fun/is going to bookstores to look smart/and faking that I’m familiar/with certain A-list authors/I like to front that I am a literate guy/I will try not to inadvertently reveal/that most of my time is spent watching bad TV” (“Bookstores”), “Four years and still no book/all I have is one page” (“I’m an Idiot with Your Idiom”), and “I met her at the art school/I told her that my name was Nikolai/and I was a starving Russian” (“Nikolai”).

But it’s the full and honest self-awareness of these deceptions that make Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest such a joy. Fortunately, this isn’t down-in-the-mouth therapy music. This is well-crafted, upbeat pop by a songwriter who’s letting us know that sometimes the truth hurts, but sometimes it’s funny, too.

Stylistically, the album slides effortlessly — sometimes in the course of a single song — between the edgy pop of Guided by Voices and the sweetly melodic indie rock of Magnetic Fields. Sonically, what you get is often more than what you first hear. At any moment, Chilcote might choose to interrupt guitars, keyboards, bass, or a banjo with a meowing cat, a bike horn, or the whistle of a steam kettle (I think that’s what that was).

With the help of Death Cab’s Chris Walla at the mixing board, these interjections remain quirky without becoming gimmicky, reminding us that while this is a recorded-in-the-basement album, it’s by no means an amateur effort. An added treat is Jamie Kline’s vocals, which provide an angelic counter to Chilcote’s often deadpan baritone.

Throughout Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest, Chilcote cops to the fact that what you see is not exactly what you get. Fortunately, what you get is a very, very good album. - (7.5/10)

Nov. '03 Baby Sue: At this point we have to wonder...is a shortage of good "dot com" names causing artists to come up with better and more creative band names...? Maybe, maybe not...but when a band comes along with a name like Slomo Rabbit Kick...this certainly seems to be the case (!). This is the new project spearheaded by Jay Chicolte (previously with the band The Revolutionary Hydra). Up until now, Chicolte has probably received most of his notoriety from a song he wrote ("That Fact That Launched A Thousand Shits") that appeared on the first Death Cab For Cutie album. Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest firmly establishes Chicolte as a viable one man band. He sang and played everything on this album with the exception of some backing vocals supplied by Jamie Kline. Bass is an odd album...sometimes sounding familiar...and at other times sounding decidedly unfamiliar and peculiar. We are particularly impressed by the fact that Chicolte opts to play real drums rather than use the ones in cans...it sounds so much better. Reading the song titles...it is difficult indeed to figure out where this guy is coming from ("spacer.gif," "To An Abject Degree," "Interstitial Walrus Revere"...). Whatever is being said...it sounds strangely relevant. An intriguing album from an intriguing artist... (Rating: 4+++)
May '03 Interview with Bellingham Herald.

 


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For the non-credulous: A goodish number of these reviews were the result of those 'paid' services that take your CDs and a one-sheet and mail them off to their review site friends so they can all remain flush with freebies. In our case it was one of the few options available for an unheard of band that doesn't tour: giving them away for free for a ho-hum, terse, one-time listen. Not that we're bitter or anything, or even surprised. bar




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