From Neil Young to Alex Cameron, the songs that inspire The Slingers’ ‘motel pop’ sound
02.11.2020

From Neil Young to Alex Cameron, the songs that inspire The Slingers’ ‘motel pop’ sound

The emerging Melbourne band have just delivered a new 7″.

The Slingers are a Melbourne band that deserve plenty of attention. With a hook-driven country pop sound that’s filled with nostalgia, The Slingers trade timeless tales of the past with cunning observations of today’s bizarre world.

Having just released their new 7″, ‘The Cruellest Cut’/’Kind Hearts’, we asked the band to give us five tracks that inspire their eloquent sound the band have coined as ‘motel pop’. First, they tell us where the genre ‘motel pop’ came from.

The inspiration behind their genre, ‘motel pop’

We played our first interstate gig on a sweltering night in Adelaide. The band before us killed it, and the crowd was pumping. Just as we went on however, the crowd vanished, scurrying out the exits like rats from a sinking ship. We went down with the ship and played a set to an empty room, which was unapologetically well lit.

After the show we retreated back to the neon comfort of our motel room. A few lukewarm beers waiting for us on the plywood nightstand. But there was a sense of farce about it all that kept things interesting, kept us drinking and soaking in the stale ambience until morning. It was not very rock’n’roll. It could have been motel pop.

Alex Cameron – ‘Happy Ending’

When I first heard this song, I quite literally could not turn it off. That is not a figure of speech. Hyperbole aside, Jumping the Shark is one of the most important Australian albums ever made. Everybody should hear it. It is a real feat to capture Australian machismo, in all its tragic grandeur, with such subtlety and such humour.

There is an unmistakable element of menace underlying the tracks, lurking just below the serene surface. Like that one friendly regular at the pub who you can have a laugh with, but always with the lingering fear that he might glass you at any moment.

And yet the tone remains triumphant and euphoric. 10/10.

Neil Young – ‘Transformer Man’

This track is transcendental. The vocoder and distorted vocals were apparently meant to reflect Neil’s attempts to communicate with his son. Neil’s love for his boy shines through. The record oozes with it. And there’s nothing more rock’n’roll than love.

We saw Neil live for our first real concert. It was on a school night, which was scandalous. He played for three hours and only got through like seven songs. The majority of the time was taken up with Neil’s frenzied, feverish soloing. It was righteous. Everything the man does, he seems to do with love and feeling and grace under pressure.

Pat Boone – ‘Moody River’

This song plays over the closing credits of arguably the greatest action blockbuster of 1991, The Last Boy Scout. The film stars Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans. It’s profoundly thrilling and we recommend you watch it with friends and family.

As for the song: “Moody river, more deadly than the vainest knife.” What an unbelievably devastating lyric. Hearing the heartache in Pat Boone’s voice as it wavers makes you wish you were 80 years old just so you could have heard him sing it live.

Arthur Russell – ‘That’s Us/Wild Combination’

We first came across this song, and Arthur Russell in general, just after high school. There was a lot of love going around back then – love for the music and for each other. We had, and still have, a very romantic approach to friendship. Just because a relationship is platonic, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be passionate.

At times you grab the nearest fella and tell them you love them. And you mean it. You start to realise you feel this way about everybody. This is where we forged our ideas about music.

It’s a talk in the dark/It’s a walk in the morning.” In this line, Arthur charts the whole course of real love – the meaning in the nothing. The party’s over but the good times roll on. The feeling is molten – it’s viscous and envelopes you. Arthur’s lyrical style is totally unique. It’s mimicked all the time, but never replicated fully. He sits outside classification. He is quite simply a king, a sovereign.

Kate Bush – ‘Hounds of Love’

This is the sort of track you remember your mum loving when you were a kid, but you were never really sure why. It’s kind of spooky and the drums are loud and aggressive – these things can be overwhelming for a child.

But then one day when you’re older you hear it again pulsing in the back of your subconscious and realise that you also love it and always have. The ferocity of the drums and melodrama bursting through those synths – once so spooky to us as children – became a big inspiration.

Bush’s vocals are so many things all at once: pained, hypnotic, heartbroken, and yet so completely uplifting and determined to overcome whatever it is coming for her through those trees. We love this, and Kate Bush generally, very much.

‘The Cruellest Cut’/’Kind Hearts’ is out now via Flightless Records. For more on The Slingers, check out their Spotify, Facebook and Instagram.

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