Album Review: Backwoods Payback – “Future Slum”

PA’s best kept secret

Out of a long, rolling crescendo reminiscent of sections on both the Who’s “I Can See For Miles” and Spaceman 3’s “Revolution,” Mike Cummings (guitar/vocals), Jessica Baker (bass) and Erik Larson (drums) hit an extended point of perfect paleo-power trio unity at roughly 3:45 into the second song on their sixth full-length––like something early Stooges might have done given Backwoods Payback’s formidable low-key wicked chops. It’s the kind of exhilarating moment that might make a lesser record. But moments equally thrilling and more so come fast and hard on both “Lines” in particular and Future Slum as a whole––and they’re by no means all tethered to the past.

Backwoods Payback are the cultural equivalent of a bigass mutant Canada thistle with a root system that pulls nutrients from at least four dimensions (time being the fourth, natch)––a little ’60s psych here, a little Delta blues there, a little ‘70s roadhouse rock here, a little contemporary doom metal there––before turning those nutrients into a display of sonic thorns and flowers big enough to cover the entire country. Mlny Parsonz (Royal Thunder) lends her voice to backhanded apathy anthem “Whatever,” diving into the band’s world and getting all burly in the vocal cords during the “Am I still breathin’?” back-and-forth with Cummings that closes the song. As for Cummings, his voice is supple AF as he moves from smooth to rough, sassy to reverent throughout the album, addressing societal ills and personal struggles with rare honesty and unflinching focus. 

By Rod Smith