Valender – The Giant Slingshot

The Giant Slingshot

Some of my favorite indie-rock albums sound like they were recorded on a Dictaphone: Pavement’s Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, Death Cab’s Something About Airplanes, Dismemberment Plan’s !, Pixies’ Doolittle, among many others. Admittedly, the quality on those records are really not that bad, but they are far from a polished Sum 41 album. I’ve often wondered what my reaction would be if those albums were produced in a multi-million dollar studio. Somehow I doubt they’d have the same effect. I can only assume that each trivial mistake during the recording would be re-recorded until “perfection” is achieved, and the raw energy would be lost under a sea of compression and digital EQ settings.
Thankfully, the indie-world’s standards are fairly low in terms of production. Enter: The Giant Slingshot. Append the album to the list of low fidelity indie-rock albums, as Valender has created an eight-song rock album on a measly four tracks. Though not on par with the mainstream world, the quality is absolutely perfect for indie-rock afficianados.
Valender is a triad of guitar, bass, and drums. Each track consists of a guitar through a delay pedal, as well as arpeggiated chords and simple strumming, causing most of the songs to sound like a tamer rendition of a Built to Spill song. The rest of the instruments are simple yet often create subtle crescendos and dynamic shifts. The vocal melodies are incredibly infectious, but they still retain the same care-free attitude that blankets each instrument. They are often doubled with the use of echo, creating a palpable rawness that only adds to the personality of the album.
My only complaint is that The Giant Slingshot is essentially a pastiche album. There’s nothing particularly distinguishing about the band; comparisons are endless. Normally this would result in a nasty diatribe, but with such lovable personality, it’s hard not to enjoy the album. And plus, the album is only around 30 minutes; it’s not a triple-disc prog rock album with bonus CD-ROM features.
Overall, there is nothing really serious to complain about (I’m optimitic, aren’t I?). With all the sub-par albums out there, it’s great to hear one that is a little more satisfying than the rest. Valender is a band with heart and soul, and it really shows in the recording. I really can’t imagine what this album would sound like on a big budget. I’m just glad that bands, what with their relatively easy access to digital equipment nowadays, still know how to effectively use the primitive 4-track.