When Slobberbone released their fourth album, "Slippage," in 2002, it was apparent they were trying for a new direction. The sound was leaner, tighter, and more produced. Where they once chiseled out a unique alt country sound with banjos, mandolins, and even the occasional fiddle backing up fiery electric guitars, on "Slippage" they stripped it down to the bare essentials and turned up Brent Best’s lead vocals.
The result was an unabashed rock and roll record that left many long time fans scratching their heads. While the record sounded different, the live shows still sounded like the old Slobberbone.
So when Brent Best unveiled his latest band, The Drams, which includes Jess Barr and Tony Harper, you would be forgiven if you showed up expecting to hear Slobberbone Redux.
That wasn’t the case Wednesday night at The Barley House in Dallas.
In front of an impressively large crowd, especially for a weeknight, and with no more fanfare than “Good evening, We’re The Drams,” Best and company launched into a set of all new songs that took the progression from alt country to more pop-oriented rock on to the next level.
Even the look was different. Best was sporting a new haircut and beard and there were no acoustic guitars or banjos cluttering the stage.
The new band’s sound is very different. Electric guitars and keyboards driving rock songs without any pretense of country, save for the familiar twangy growl of Best’s vocals.
Slobberbone made a reputation as a live band before they released any records, forging their idiosyncratic style on stage. They built a following the old fashioned way, playing constantly and fine tuning their sound.
From what I saw last night, The Drams may be following the same formula.
It’s apparent that Best has been busy writing songs. And the band has obviously been rehearsing. They played very well together without anyone but Best taking center stage.
It may be too early to tell, but if last night’s show was any indication, The Drams may well be in it for the long haul. Hopefully they are.