Slam Dunk is a band that, in this town at least, requires no introduction. For the past five years, those privy to Slam Dunk’s monomaniacal mission of fun and fun only, have been spoiled. We’ve cast our eager gaze through a thick haze of mosh-pit perspiration as Slam Dunk frantically evolved from a last-minute party curiosity to a band armed with a first album, The Shivers, (a consummately good one, at that) which is sure to get even the most conservative parties a-bumpin’.
But with the release of their sophomore album, Welcome to Miami, Slam Dunk proves our isolationist-island-induced worries true; this band isn’t simply a flash-in-the-pan conglomerate of ragtags eventually bound to fizzle in one of our city’s many gaping puddles; Slam Dunk’s star is set to rise well above our beloved volcanic earth. Welcome to Miami places Slam Dunk on par with bands like The Pixies, and the Velvet Underground before them, who have managed to change culture for the better.
Many stars have aligned to make this Slam Dunk’s moment. The first has to do with production. Welcome to Miami, set for release on Nov. 13, was produced by Juno award-winning mastermind Colin Stewart. Stewart, who has previously produced albums as diverse as Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune, and The Pink Mountaintops’ Outside Love, is a perfect fit for this album.
“We recorded our first seven-inch in a shed and the twelve-inch was recorded in a barn,” says Slam Dunk singer/guitarist Duncan McConnell. “Welcome to Miami was recorded in a studio with Colin … he’s an awesome dude and a total pro.”
Stewart’s role as a producer transcended mic-ing and recording, however. At times, Stewart helped the band maintain focus while continuing to cultivate their sense of humour. Welcome to Miami continues the tradition Slam Dunk initiated with The Shivers: the album is funny, and proves that as good as this band is, they refuse to take themselves all that seriously.
“Sometimes we’d get to the point where it’s two in the morning and we’re like ‘oh my God should we do this … like, what are we doing again?’ So we ask Colin, ‘Colin are we stupid? Should we not do this joke that we’re thinking of?’ In those situations he would give us some guidance.”
The new album also marks the band’s first album with a record label. The story behind the signing is the kind of story many bands dream of. Some staff at File Under Music saw Slam Dunk play a show in Vancouver, and liked what they heard. As a signed act, Slam Dunk no longer has to do its own promotion; Welcome to Miami has already been distributed to a number of music magazines and the response has been overwhelmingly good.
“It’s already getting sweet in that we don’t have to do that lame shit that the record label does. With the last record, we just googled the addresses of radio stations and press, put stamps on CDs and sent them away … most of those probably ended up in the garbage. Now we have somebody to do our promotion for us. I don’t see how it could get any better … well, maybe if we sold enough records, we could buy a newer van.”
As Slam Dunk prepares to jump in its old van and head down the West Coast this month, it will do so with the assurance that the new album has gone before them, no doubt wooing countless critics and radio stations on the way. M
Slam Dunk CD Release
Logan’s Pub. $8
Review: Welcome to Miami
Within seconds of dropping a needle on Welcome to Miami’s opening number, “I Can’t Stand It,” it is obvious that Slam Dunk is in the midst of a change. Welcome to Miami is every bit as fun as the band’s debut: it is equally contagious and the hooks are just as strong, but the album is also a testament to how far the band has come in the two years between recordings. Simply put, The Shivers is good, but Welcome to Miami is great.
As Welcome to Miami opens, “I Can’t Stand It” winds its way through various time signatures and musical arrangements, which include an expanded three-piece brass section. Listeners are forced to marvel at the band’s vast array of reference points. Nowhere is this more evident than the opening track, a strange hybrid of “The Soft Parade” and “London Calling,” which beckons us to follow Slam Dunk into new and exciting territory.
And a diverse territory it is. This album proves to be more than a gem: it’s a multifaceted diamond in the rough. Go pick it up; witness the power of evolution, lest you become a dying breed. M
Stream Welcome to Miami Here:
Update: Jan.11, 2013: Welcome to Mialmi vinyl is now available at Ditch Records and CDs for $16.99