by Steve Preston

“Let’s Talk About the Blues”

A Slipping Into Darkness Album Review

Lets talk about the blues, lets talk about Rock n’ Roll, yeah, lets talk about Slipping Into Darkness. I can’t quite remember how I heard of these guys, actually, that’s not true, I believe Jos of Sailor On Shore was the one who told me about them, he had been booking some band from DHS at his one time venue, The La Quinta Playhouse. He had told me to check them out online and to come see a show, I listened to a few tracks and was impressed so I decided to give it a try one night. I can remember one thing pretty well from that night and it was the three band members, Michael Durazo, Nigel Dettelbach, and Larry Miramontes sharing a big gulp sized beverage on stage for which I’m sure was not a big gulp style beverage. I could tell these guys were down for the cause of Rock n’ Roll.
The three songs the band had on the web at first were some of the best tracks I’ve heard out of a young desert band in a long time. Songs like Cosmic Goddess, 1904, and Her Blues were a breath a fresh air in a scene saturated by similar sounds and sulky teenagers. When Durazo sings in 1904 “Bloody witches in my bedroom, always looking for the magic mushrooms,” desert imagery fills my mind, I am reminded of stories I have heard about Josh Homme’s early Desert Sessions recordings, three day mushroom trips while recording in the desert of Joshua Tree. A bluesy ballad like Her Blues takes me to a mystical bar located in the middle of nowhere, when a sultry young cowgirl walks in, gives me the eye, and I am quickly sent into a sprawling drug induced trip equal to something you might see in a cheesy film about the sixties. When Cosmic Goddess hits on this three-song opener I am back in a bedroom somewhere in the Coachella Valley, hanging out with friends, laughing, drinking and telling stories of young love and crazy parties, like he sings near the end, “it’s time to get loaded, it’s time to free our minds.”
In this first set of songs Durazo’s voice can be one of a bar hopping loud mouth or that of a drug mystic leading you down a dark and warren path. If Durazo’s voice is the guide then Dettelbach’s bass playing is the devil on your shoulder, whispering in your ear to get up and dance. Durazo’s guitar can be painted as some of the crazed locals reaching out for you to join them and Larry Miramontes drumming lays down the scenery for this mystical adventure to take place.
The depth and style of this band is only briefly touched with these first songs, I found, when they put up the fast paced Tijuana a short while after I was blown away, and it was here when I finally realized how good these guys really were. Beginning with a righteous Mexican style bird call or whatever that is, the song quickly ramps into a forceful desert rock anthem. When I hear these guys I instantly think about the slew of old desert bands which I am currently journeying after. Most comparably though these guys are channeling the reigns of Fatso Jetson, an old desert band fronted by longtime desert rock guru, Mario Lalli. What’s even more crazy is when I asked Durazo if he listens to these guys and he says he never heard of’em. This strikes me as interesting because the sound is so similar to that old desert blues sound. This is more evidence in my long going case for the desert sound going deeper than maybe we all think. If the sound can travel decades through the sand and end up in the garages of a couple kids in DHS, I truly believe there is something more there.
All right, old desert nostalgia aside, these guys kick ass and rock your socks off if you know what I mean. What’s even greater about these guys is they write a lot of music. I spent a night drinking in DHS with Durazo a short time ago and while I was there he played me a few other tracks the band has recorded on their own, including two acoustic ballads drummer Larry Miramontes has recorded. One of which, We Can Be Lovers, was a heartfelt expression of the true feelings of a young man just looking for some lovin. A close friend quickly makes the comparison to Elliott Smith when he hears the tracks, and I agree, on the surface, but I believe Larry’s style is so much more optimistic and filled with a consequence free, carefree attitude. It was refreshing to hear such great love songs come out of these guys, and the fact that they can flip the coin and give me another blues heavy, old timey song called Bullet Proof Heart is just rad, not to mention the cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” they gave me which just shows not only their breadth of musical inspiration, but their lightheartedness with playing music.
A friend of mine spent some time with the band and tells a story of them laying it out one night, I can’t remember the exact quote so I’m paraphrasing, but basically he said, they said “It’s all about Rock n’ Roll, everything else sucks.” and I can believe it. When Nigel’s bass playing slides in, Larry’s steady beat keep moving, and Durazo’s dirty guitar jumps on board, these guys are an unstoppable force of Rock n’ Roll mayhem. Even their stage presence screams it, as they play it cool while Durazo comically asks “Where the pussy at? I smell pussy.”
I think when it comes down to it these guys are about playing good rock music. They don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re out to just have a good time. I listen to the music and it makes me want to get up and do something, if that makes any sense. They remind me of a time now almost forgotten, of generator parties, and wild desert psychedelia. I’m not claiming to know much but I’ve heard a story or two and these guys fit right in with the succession of the Lalli’s, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. Now I’m not saying anything about anything, but just know that these guys can rock and they’re one of the only groups around doing it, so keep it up boys, diggin through the sand will prove worthwhile some day.

To check out Slipping Into Darkness: www.myspace.com/slippingintodarkness1107
To purchase their album: www.downloadpunk.com
To watch them in action: http://www.vimeo.com/701519