by Steven Pisano
Last Thursday's CMJ Music Marathon showcase at the Bowery Ballroom featured four very different bands, united by their love of Rock. Openers Slothrust was formed at Sarah Lawrence College in 2010. Lead singer Leah Wellbaum has a voice that should earn her a lot of attention: she can rock out, she can scream, but she can also be quite funny the way she deadpans lines. When she pulled her blonde hair back, she looked like a fresh-scrubbed farmer's daughter, with a playful, teasing look in her eye. But most of the time, she preferred to drape her hair over half of her face, like an introverted middle schooler skipping school to smoke and ride in cars with high school boys. Other times, when she wasn't smiling, there was an almost dark, faraway look in her eyes—like the distant stare of shell-shocked soldiers.
All of these looks were reflected in Slothrust's music, much of which came from their new release Of Course You Do. (My favorite opening line was: “I’m going to leave you anyway”, from "7:30 AM.") With a background playing jazz and blues, there is confident musicianship underneath the band’s surface grunge. Their cover of The Turtles' relentlessly cheery "Happy Together" started off faithfully before the music suddenly got dark, the guitars started to growl, and Wellbaum started screaming. Sunny and innocent love turned into nightmarish and uncontrollable need. And then just as suddenly, the band was all happy again.