Release Date: Apr 21, 2015
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The man behind Slug is named Ian Black and he spent some quality time as the bass player in Field Music. Ripe, the first Slug album, sounds unsurprisingly like a Field Music album since that band's Brewis brothers, Peter and David, share production duties and play all sorts of instruments alongside Black. The similarities are many, from the tightly constructed songs and complex vocal harmonies to the inventive arrangements, but it's the subtle differences that make the record unique.
Slug is a project which has been a long time in the making. Its primary protagonist Ian Black served his time with underappreciated North East surf-pop loons The Bubble Project, before a year as a touring member of Field Music gave him the inspiration to take on his own project. The four years which followed this stint were spent gradually compiling the songs which would eventually become Ripe once Black had taken Rhys Patterson and fellow Field Music alum Andrew Lowther into Peter and David Brewis’ Sunderland studio to finally commit his work to tape.
Slug is Ian Black, a stalwart of the music scene in the north east of England for the past decade who, most notably, plays bass in Field Music’s touring band. For Ripe, the first album released under the Slug name, Field Music’s Peter and David Brewis lent Black their studio and performed production and instrumentation duties. Slug, then, is the latest product of a remarkably fecund music scene based around the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland.
Slug leader Ian Black is from Sunderland—about as far northeast as you can go in England before reaching Scotland—and he used to be a touring member of Field Music. The Brewis brothers engineered and played on Ripe, which was recorded at their small studio on the banks of the River Tyne and bears all the hallmarks of their flinching funk deconstructions. That connection is the obvious reason to listen to Slug’s debut, which works as a fine stopgap while Field Music work on the followup to 2012’s Plumb.
Of the myriad of reasons why the North East’s music scene is so exciting, yet somehow vastly underrated these days, there are two in particular that stick out as reasons to pay attention. The first is the region’s defiance against the norm. Perhaps it’s the isolation from the rest of the music industry - with Maximo Park’s Paul Smith saying as much in a talk during the recent 6 Music Festival - but there always seems to be an emphasis on trying new things among North East bands.