I know for a fact that I’ve opined before on the merits of charm when it comes to otherwise kinda-dopey stoner rock, and that an album or EP or whatever can be as redundant as it likes in my eyes so long as there’s some personality on display. Well, when it comes to San Antonio heavy rocking four-piece Slo’ Poke, their Deliver us to Evel cassette doesn’t make any bones about its root influences so much as it downs a beer, smokes a joint and roughs up Fu Manchu start-stop grooves to give a Tejas Crossing kind of sensibility to otherwise straightforward, ultra-unpretentious fuck-yeah-good-time stonerisms. Flip tape to side 2 and repeat. Right on.
A lot of what you need to know about the band’s approach, you can probably pick up from the title. Last time I checked, 20 year olds weren’t talking about Evel Knievel — please note: I have no idea what the kids are talking about — so you can probably guess Slo’ Poke are in the over-30 demographic. The play on words tells you two things — there is a metal influence and though they don’t take themselves too seriously, there’s an element of cleverness at work as well. All that turns out to be true over the course of Deliver us to Evel, the metallic side and a bit more of the tongue-in-cheek vibe coming through on side 1′s “The 5th Horseman,” while the opener “Cockfight” provides as straight a port of the Fu as one could ask. In between, “I Shot Mark David Chapman” reminds of Clutch‘s funk-infused style of riffing, and “Ten Speed” keeps things suitably active on the way to “Winterbeard” and “Wizard’s Sabatical” (sic) closing out with unabashed stoner fervor.
Comprised of the foursome of guitarists Jeff Nettles and Matt, bassist Jason and drummer/vocalist Danny – whose voice is high in the mix initially, but settles back by the time “Hocus Pocus” (not a Focus cover) is over — Slo’ Poke reportedly got together in 2001. I don’t know how much material they actually have out and available for public consumption, but Deliver us to Evel sounds sure enough of its approach to make me think it wasn’t 12 years in the making. Whatever the case, it’s a decent bit of riffery aimed at the already converted that isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is. Probably won’t quake your earth, but if Slo’ Poke were playing at the bar down the street on some night I happened to be in San Antonio, for sure I’d be up for getting hit over the head with these riffs live.