Album Review: Slingshot Dakota – “Heavy Banding”
Posted: by The Editor
The new chapter of Slingshot Dakota has arrived, and it’s unapologetically loud and impactful. Heavy Banding ushers in the next installment of the band’s career, redefining what it means to not just be musicians but messengers of hope.
Carly Commando and Tom Patterson have conquered a corridor of indie punk, one that they’ve forged for themselves as a keys and drums duo. Their pioneering hasn’t stopped there; there’s a frontier they’re pushing for artistic autonomy and community building through diverse lineups, equal pay opportunities on tour rosters, and pushing marginalized voices to a platform. All of this, while shredding harder than any strings could ever support.
Heavy Banding opens with a stripped down, keys and falsetto-driven “Moon,” a shining example of the power behind Slingy D’s message, carried by gorgeous intent. It’s unpacking the weight of struggling for a voice that’s not just heard but understood. It’s the opening of one of the many frequent themes woven into Heavy Banding: fighting for space and self.
From the moment that Slingshot Dakota announced Heavy Banding, my gut knew: this was going to be the album of the year, if not of my life. It’s rich and honest with some of life’s most painful experiences, from struggles of communicating good intentions in “Blood Villain” to pushing back against negative influences in “Premeditated.” These are more than words, keys, and heavy drums. It’s these booming tracks that I’ve blasted in my car after a difficult day, absorbing these words and these rhythms tucked in Heavy Banding as a healing tool.
Wrenching “Casino Night” mourns the loss of a friendship that reveals the truly raw grief and process of letting go. It’s what Carly Commando has described as the “Thank You, Next” for the ending of a friendship, and it’s the type of experience that isn’t told enough through music. Layered with organ-driven keys and wailing falsetto, it’s curative in a way that preaches a gospel truth: things end, but perspective and healing come in time.
The strength of Heavy Banding lies in “Louder,” an anthem for pushing back against the norms of the music industry. There’s no room for suffering in silence as Commando growls “Look me in the eyes and say/I’m better off this way.” It’s her and Tom’s call to linked arms when confronted with the prejudices in the music community, and it’s speaking as much to the ones they’ve faced as it is those that other marginalized voices have, too.
The beauty of the song lies in the vocal crescendos filled by friends of the band Expert Timing, Kiley Lotz of Petal, and Dikembe. It’s this chant of “We’ll just keep getting louder” that pierces not just the song itself but memory going forward – you’ll find yourself muttering, then shouting this mantra any time life presents a challenge, just knowing that someone out there just gets it. There’s no feeling like being understood and seen, and that’s what Slingshot Dakota accomplishes.
Therein lies the hope of it all: “Weird Like Me,” a danceable, catch-y gem that ushers forward the essence of individuality to all, but especially the next generation. It’s encouragement to any who listen to embrace themselves and be themselves. It’s the hope that we all will embrace each other for our eccentricities and identities, for our quirks and character. That’s what a community does, and that’s what Slingshot Dakota has built.
Heavy Banding sets a precedent for music and the people who make it. Write with honesty. Promote with integrity. Make your intent clear. Build up those around you. This a record that will just keep getting louder, as we all take in the hope that Slingshot Dakota gave us.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal
Amanda Starling // @StarlingAj
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