Slender Means

Slender Means


"Amazingly accomplished indie pop perfection."


Is there a double-edged sword that cuts as incisively both ways for a rock band as the acclaimed debut album? Slender Means might be at a loss to say what it is. The Seattle’s band’s razor-sharp Neon & Ruin (Mt Fuji Records) was hailed as “an amazingly accomplished album of indie-pop perfection” (, “an indie-pop grand slam” (The Stranger), and “a powerful and masterful debut, as passionate as it is rocking” (MSN). Packing eleven songs and innumerable hooks into less than forty minutes, the album drew inspiration from – and invoked printed comparisons to – The Kinks, The Shins, The Strokes, Cheap Trick, Travis, Supergrass, The Chameleons, Big Star, The Smiths, and Elvis Costello, among others.

But even with the band’s influences proudly on its sleeve, the sound in the grooves was wholly Slender Means. The songs themselves were the attractions. The rhythm section was rock solid, the guitars “delicately interlaced,” and Votolato’s harmonies managed to improve Dawson’s already pitch-perfect tenor. But this combination merely provided the canvas. The songs – including “Painless Life,” “I Could Be Cruel,” and “Van Gogh” – were the band’s paintings. And then, inevitably, there came the matter of following that up.

But there will be time for that later. Before they could record that auspicious debut, each member of Slender Means had to go around the block a few times. There was the time Josh Dawson (Telecaster, voice) played with his old band Light Heavyweight for scenesters and label types in a showcase at the Viper Room (never again, he resolved). There was Bugs In Amber, the highly-regarded “orchestral pop” outfit comprised of three-fifths of Slender Means: Sonny Votolato (Rickenbacher, harmonies), David E. Martin (keyboards), and Paul Pugliese (bass). And finally, Eric Wennberg (drums) had built a following with indie rock Problem With Heroes. Dawson and Votolato even played together, Quarrymen-like, as teenagers in the fondly remembered Fields of Mars. Each had plenty of reasons to know what he was looking for (or not) in a band by the time Slender Means began to assemble, a process each describes in terms of planets-aligning synchronicity. The band laid down a four-song demo and started playing well-received shows around Seattle. When they went into Jupiter Studios with Martin Feveyear (Screaming Trees, the Presidents Of The USA, Damian Jurado), they worked as Neon & Ruin would ultimately sound: quick but not rushed, economical and fat-free, with little in the way of even old-school studio chicanery like overdubs. The band toured behind Neon & Ruin – sharing bills with artists including the New Pornographers, Minus The Bear, Rocky Votolato, Jesse Sykes, Fleet Foxes, Rogue Wave, Viva Voce, and numerous others – and wrapped up the cycle with the self-release of Rock N’ Roll Machine, an EP of three B-Sides and a radio station performance of “The Comet.”

The band returned to the studio with Feveyear in September 2008, armed with some fifteen songs they had been honing since as far back as the release of Neon & Ruin. The objectives were simple enough: to make the album sound more like their live show – edgier, rougher, more organic; to take an aggressive “next step” in evolving the band’s sound; and to remember that the songs were still the stars of the show. The band have tracked fourteen songs – with working titles including “Serving Time,” "Pitch A Fit," and “Bartender." Mixing and mastering will wrap up in March of 2009.

A band whose debut album was described as being “as good as some bands’ fourth or fifth,” they are focused on creating a follow up that does not sound like a stereotypical second album. Slender Means will release its anticipated follow up to Neon & Ruin in Summer 2009.


LP: Neon & Ruin (2005, Mt. Fuji)
EP: Rock N' Roll Machine (2007, Esoterik)
LP2: Adrift In The Cosmos (Tentative), Coming in Summer 2009