Slant 6

  • Slant 6
  • Soda Pop * Rip Off (Dischord) 1994 
  • Inzombia (Dischord) 1995 
  • Autoclave
  • Autoclave EP10 (Mira/Dischord) 1992 
  • I'll Take You Down EP7 (K/Dischord) 1992 

Nicely updating the stripped-down power and acute melodic skills of Wire with a slightly charming, amateurish rhythmic attack, Washington DC’s Slant 6 offered refreshing primitivism amid the increasingly prog-ish early-’90s Dischord sound. Led by guitarist/singer Christina Billotte with drummer Marge Marshall and bassist Myra Power, the combo delivers succinct but clunky punk rock highlighted by unexpectedly strong pop hooks and occasionally odd instrumental angularities on its debut. While the rhythm section sometimes struggles to keep a steady beat, Billotte is talented enough to offset these setbacks with a rare blend of supreme confidence, breezy attitude and consistently terrific songs.

Inzombia is a major disappointment. While the trio’s playing has improved, the songs are lackluster. They do take more chances — the largely rhythm-free “Click Click,” the girl-group-isms of “Ladybug Superfly” and the humor in “Retro Duck” — but the tedious title track, which takes up a third of the short album, is an extended chunk of quasi-sci-fi film filler that feebly attempts to create horrific atmospheres through poorly executed pin-drop drama. The group broke up shortly after its release.

Before forming Slant 6, Billotte played bass in Autoclave with Mary Timony (pre-Helium). The quartet’s eponymous six-song 10-inch showcases plenty of endlessly inventive twin-guitar counterpoint, setting languid, remarkably sophisticated pop tunes amid a sumptuous, harmonically compelling sound world. It’s unfortunate Autoclave had such a short existence; years after the group’s dissolution, there’s still no one producing records that resemble this distinctively knotted music.

[Peter Margasak]

See also: Helium