The Slant
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The Slant

Band Folk Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Slant: 'The Human Animal': NPR Music"

One of the more difficult things to do in songwriting is crafting concise yet fully formed songs. It's a natural tendency to overwrite, fitting in every idea or phrase that comes to mind. It's much harder to say a lot in not much space, while also making the song feel like it's not some tossed-off vignette or transitional material between lengthier tunes. But the Pittsburgh band The Slant does just that with Old North, an 18-track album on which most songs clock in around two or three minutes.

The Slant formed in the summer of 2005 as a collaboration between two other bands — Atlas and Untitled — looking for a new musical project. The band is composed of singer-songwriter Mark Zedonek; guitarist, songwriter, and harmonica player Andre Costello; bassist Brad Austin; and drummer Zach Dow.

Split into two halves: "The Old" and "The North," the record flows nicely between rollicking alt-country rock and more personal and intimate songs. While not a concept album, the songs all seem to share a timeless quality: Referencing a rural life filled with old trees by rivers, harvest moons, circus big tops, and even Civil War imagery, the songs seem to inhabit an America long since gone.

Much of the album is rooted in typical folk and indie-rock, colored with satisfying peaks of distortion and noise that hint at something a bit darker. The incidental background noise of the room — from fluttering book pages and the hammering of nails into wood to humming television static — bleeds into the instruments, giving the record a roomy, do-it-yourself spaciousness. The result is a collection of songs that feel tactile and spontaneous, as if the listener is there in the band's living room listening in on its creation.

"The Human Animal" — one of the best and yet all-too-short songs — is both brooding and intimately hopeful. Accompanied only by a simple guitar strum and a subtle banjo melody, the arrangement is enhanced with rhythmically intricate backing vocals that add colorful harmonic depth. Singing "Ten thousand voices bringing hardened hearts to rest at home," Zedonek is able to convey a lot in roughly 90 seconds, while leaving the listener wishing for another verse.

-Michael Katzif - National Public Radio

"Music Preview: The Slant -- the Band meets Radiohead?"

Andre Costello says The Slant prides itself as being somewhat "out of the loop," and yet, talking about its influences the Pittsburgh band references such "in the loop" indie bands as Animal Collective and Akron/Family.

That indie-rock sensibility combined with backwoods roots and classic rock influences makes its second album, "Old North," a richly textured journey filled with surprising twists -- or perhaps slants -- ranging all the way from Southern Gothic folk to chamber pop to a trance instrumental. Think Dylan in the basement with the Band, with Radiohead dropping by.

The offbeat instrumentation is part of the adventure, as the album lists the basic guitars, bass and drums, but also adds banjo, vibraphone, bowed tam tam, desks, suitcases, drawers, didgeridoo, pages fluttering, TV static, forks and hammering of nails in wood, among others.
The Slant

* Where: CD release party at Club Cafe, South Side.
* When: 7 tonight.
* Tickets: $5
* More information: 1-866-468-3401.

"Our background growing up in rural Pennsylvania has given us a unique outlook on what is traditional instrumentation," says Costello. "None of us feel very happy with the majority of popular and readily accessible music today, so by adding non-traditional instruments in our lineup, we're attempting to vary what we do as compared to what's happening in the mainstream world. This idea has a lot to do with our band name, adding a new spin on an old idea. I feel we all pride ourselves in being 'out of the loop.' In addition, the music our parents listened to has certainly played into what has influenced us as musicians on a whole."

Three of the members -- Brad Austin, Mark Zedonek and Zach Dow -- hail from Coudersport, Potter County, where they started playing music in early high school. Costello, from Ellwood City and a group called The Rubber Band, filled out the quartet in 2006 and they recorded their first album "Animanatomy."

Despite its stylistic leaps, "Old North" feels like one flowing piece, held together by its earthy and rollicking spirit. They sing of circus big tops, flowers and trees, a battle with a bear, a coffin maker's son, the Civil War and a girl named Suzy Lee.

"It's not a concept album," Costello says, "but there is a thematic center around how the different characters that arise in the songs [and on the album cover] interact. There is a definite story that can be considered throughout the album as some of the characters are in more than one song and the songs deal with related subject matter. In general, we don't see it as a concept album, but found that it was interesting to have related material between songs instead of completely disconnected tracks. This is also the reason for having it split up into two parts."

On the CD, they are designated as "The Old" and "The North," beginning with the sound of a needle dropping on a vinyl record. There's even a middle break after the title track indicating where the record would have to be flipped.

"The first half has some older sounds we often find ourselves using while the second half is more progressive compared to what we usually do," Costello says. "It seems to flow well from beginning to end, but we wanted to specifically draw attention to the differences."

When it comes to telling their friends, relatives, media or a potential record company suitor what they do, it's not the easiest task.

"We don't really think of ourselves as indie-rock," Costello says, "but it definitely seems to be a part of our sound. None of us have a great deal of indie-rock influence but the folk sound we end up getting naturally hints at a distant indie-rock sound. We prefer the sound of straight folk or completely warped folk because it's the only honest music out there anymore. The beauty of folk music is that no matter what gets worked into a song, the basis is always heartfelt and great on its own."

- Scott Mervis - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"The Makings of This House Review"

The Slant’s “The Makings of This House” is emotionally driven, forward-thinking folk at its best.

If you’re looking for extreme vocal prowess and a sick organic groove then The Slant will be right up your alley. The band is a melting pot of typical folk instrumentation outlined with heavy hitting drums and a deep back beat that have continually had my head bobbing during my exploration of The Slant’s “The Makings of This House”. Some tracks on the album are a bit gypsy in nature which makes for some weird song transitions as you listen, though its not unpleasant by any means. The style variety is often strange, but I suppose I’d be complaining if every song sounded identical, wouldn’t I?

My favorite track, “Stand Fast”, is one of the band’s very raw, pulsing, and transient grooves where you can’t exactly make out what’s going on in the background, but you do know its some sort of drum serving as a snare. The song grows and diminishes appropriately until finally a mandolin enters the sound stage and you’re reminded that you’re listening to The Slant and not an old Death Cab song. This track ends way too soon.

What must be stressed, most of all, is that the group has an uncurbing ability to make an intensely varied collection of music. As I listened to this frustratingly short and teasing album, I found myself repeatedly checking my media player to make sure “shuffle mode” was off. This isn’t to say that the tracks are unrelated or don’t fit well together, but I was simply so impressed at the tone and atmosphere the group created on each track because it’s always so vastly different from the previous track. The Slant are a great group that serve as a reminder to the fact that originality is underplayed and seldom heard in music today. - Praise For


Animanatomy (2007)
Old North (2008)
The Makings of This House (2009)

To hear samples of each track, visit the following urls:
Animanatomy -
Old North -
The Makings of This House -



The Slant derives its name from the simple idea that traditions stand because they work, though many are modified throughout time. With this in mind, The Slant is a new take on some old, and cherished, ideas: acoustic instruments, catchy folk-based melodies, colorful vocal harmonies, and incidental sounds combined with the sonic vastness of ambient noise, undulating rhythms, and exploration of non-traditional arrangements. These old and new musical traditions provide the basis for what is perhaps The Slant’s most defining quality – a genuine concern for humanity and its inner workings on a personal level.