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Slick Shoes - Click to view! Punk musicians, perhaps more than any other breed on the musical landscape, suffer from the perception that it takes little or no skill to play their brand of music, and that all bands who attempt it sound the same. Blink 182, Green Day and their kind have made careers out of three- and four-chord songs and alacritous drumming, with little to distinguish them from their forefathers, the Ramones, NOFX et. al. If those detractors are right, it should come as no surprise that Christian punk groups have been among the first to match their secular counterparts in terms of quality. Regardless, it can't be denied that those Christians who do punk do it well. Among the best in the biz today is Orange County, CA-based Slick Shoes.

Their recent self-titled offering begins with "My Ignorance," in which the songwriter muses about a dream in which he "sees his life slip away," only to have God pick him up, dust him off, tell him that He loves him, and send him on his way again. The songwriter later comes to the realization that God does this every time he's down ("When I've fallen hard You're there no questions asked") and wonders why he struggles to make his own way in life ("Why do I fight with You sometimes?").

"Pass Me By" follows, a punchy and straightforward tune in which the group reflects on the events of a year, and, for some undisclosed reason, yearns for the euphoria of "Christmas time." The songwriter bemoans his apathy, lack of direction and the fact that life seems to pass him by. The solution? Go to sleep and dream about the holidays.

"Friday Night" is a light-hearted schoolboy anthem that extols the virtues of a Friday night well spent: "You've made it through the week, and now you feel just fine/There'll be no nervous breakdown tonight because...it's Friday night."

"Ten Ways" ensues, a surprisingly emotional love song that seems a bit quirky, masked in power chords and celeritous skin-slapping as it is. The songwriter sings about travelling to the ends of the earth and finding that nothing can compare to his lover's face: "[I thought] I could not possibly love you more/But once again you've shown me I was wrong/'Cause every day I see your...beautiful green eyes/I find I love you more."

"Alone," "I Knew," "1 A.M." and "Remember" are in the same vein, all sonnets about girlfriends and wives and trying to invent new ways to say "I love you." The group could be accused of diluting their lyrics and attempting "go mainstream" if these songs weren't so masterfully done. Even if they are selling out, the listener won't care. The band's benefits greatly from the stewardship of producer Neill King (Green Day), and comes up with songs that are rather enjoyable.

In the remainder of the album, the band extols its listeners to impact the world through action, rather than conversation ("No More Words"), rebuke a friend who has struggled with sin ("1000 Times Before") and express elation over walking in God's presence ("151").

Slick Shoes, now four albums into their contract with Tooth and Nail, is a band to watch for. Though this album is consistent to a fault (most of the songs are the same tempo and sound very similar), and sometimes treads shallow waters, it's as worthy of airplay as Blink 182 or Weezer. They don't do much to revolutionize Christian punk, but what they do, they do well.
- Ben Forrest
June 2002

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