‘SLUFF’ is a word that means both everything and nothing, but it definitely sums up the three distinct personalities that make up Naked Giants. Depending which member you ask, SLUFF is either slang for the black gunk that comes off your shoes when it snows in the winter, an acronym that stands for South Lake Union Fuck Face (a reference to the tech bros who have infiltrated Seattle in recent years) or what a snake does when it sheds its skin. It’s also the title – and a song on – the band’s debut full-length.
Formed in 2015, the Seattle trio – guitarist/vocalist Grant Mullen, bassist/vocalist Gianni Aiello and drummer Henry LaVallee – put out debut EP R.I.P. the following year and have been steadily building up their reputation as a live act in the meantime, and having as much fun as possible while doing it. Because as much as the three-piece – who are all in their very early 20s now – have their heads screwed on and are fiercely intelligent people, they also want to let loose and enjoy being in a band. After all, that’s kind of what being in a band with your closest friends is all about. “I just want to make as much noise and have as much fun and get as sweaty as I can,” says LaVallee, “and if that resonates with people, that’s who I want in my life. That’s who I want to play music for.”
That clash of the cerebral and the intelligent – the desire to say something meaningful but also just have some fun – is what underpins the very essence of who Naked Giants is. It’s a band of contradictions. Their music, which is simultaneously timeless and modern, new and old, is loud and brash and raw, but there’s vulnerability there, too. In fact, debut album SLUFF is a melting pot of ideas and sounds that, on paper, don’t seem like they would go together, but which form one phenomenally cohesive whole. “These are songs that we’ve played live for a long time,” explains Mullen. “We wanted to showcase the different kinds of songs we’ve written and put them all onto an album that flows together, making it tie together into something that means something.”
That’s exactly what they do on SLUFF‘s twelve weird and wonderful songs. Recorded with producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana/Screaming Trees/Beat Happening/Car Seat Headrest/Low/Minus The Bear) in Seattle at Avast! and Soundhouse Studios over the course of two and a half weeks in October, the record is a dizzying mélange of influences and ideas. It swirls with hyperactive restlessness as 1960s harmonies share space with 1970s riffs while at the same time battling an undercurrent of punk rock and more modern indie influences. The song “TV”, for example, is a kaleidoscope of sound that seems to take in the whole history of rock’n’roll but reframes it in a more contemporary context.
“From our perspective as millennials where everything is accessible all at once,” explains Aiello, “there is no difference to us between punk and classic rock or anything like that because we’re all observing it at the same time through the same lens. And yes, history exists, but if you’re just flipping through something on the TV, it all kind of conflates together – kind of like the song does.”
FURY THINGS are three quiet dudes playing loud music. In three prolific years, they’ve released three EPs, two singles and a brand new LP, all while gradually becoming mainstays in the Twin Cities music community. With no image, ego or gimmick, they let their melodic hooks and electric stage presence speak for them. Drenched in sweat and left with ears ringing after every show, their on-stage aggression is balanced with a friendliness and persevering attitude that has netted them fans locally and internationally.
Loud Sun is Andrew Jansen (born 1984, Madison, WI), an American musician who has been self-releasing music since the year 2000. Blending genres such as rock, folk, psychedelic, punk and elements of electronic music he has played in numerous bands in the Upper Midwest and San Francisco Bay Area often in DIY spaces. Loud Sun’s most recent effort was written and self-recorded in Oakland, CA and Minneapolis over a two-year period.