Clocking in at 15 minutes long, the chilled beats of Slug’s debut EP Loot Takers pop open like a Fruit Gusher, jewel-colored and lush, and melt away with a lingering brightness. White Denim’s Greg Clifford, Soul Food Horns’ Louk Cox and No. 18’s Chase Goldman, all alumni of the UT jazz program, with additional collaborators, recorded the EP remotely across four international time zones. The trio’s released a handful of jazzy, lofi instrumentals under the Slug moniker this year, but with featured vocals from Austin rapper Chucky Blk and Los Angeles’ Nafets, Loot Takers crystallizes the vision. In “Stuck In The Stone,” Nafets unwinds inner anxieties over a rippling psychedelic hook, while a shuffling beat in “Hangouts” gives Chicagon trumpeter Noe Mina a warm backing palette. Blk’s slam poetry background shines in the title track’s cadences as he salutes “the loot takers, the bread bakers and the floor of our loom makers” showing solidarity in protests against police violence. “I don’t owe you none of my civility,” he affirms. Much of the EP reflects its environment. If you wonder how a track called “Springtime Blues” made its way onto a late August release, its musings on the calming power of walking outside ring all too familiar, punctuated with muted brass flourishes and bird calls. Yet none of this falls too on-the-nose, and sly wordplay, complete with fantasy video game references, bring a playful energy. Slug filters reality through delectable production to craft an immersive universe within its short runtime.
Review by Annie Lyons