At first glance it's easy to make the one-off assumption that Slingshot Dakota are some sort of Mates of State tribute act -- the male/female couple, the keyboard lead, the often cute-sounding songs all add to this. But if you dig slightly below the surface you find a band that is fully their own, even on a three-song demo CD -- with obvious influences that span the gamut of independent music.

The first track, "White Couch" dispels the fear that somehow the band will embrace that "cutesy" moniker they've unfairly gained. It has a straight-up punk drumbeat, something to be heard on one of the Bouncing Souls' burners, pushing forward a song about "sitting on a white couch" recovering from a life-changing injury. It's a quick affair, just 97 seconds long and features great vocal stylings from singer Carly. Track 2, "Michael Jordan Saved My Life" is about Jordan from Yo Man Go and features drummer Tom on vocals for a change. While his voice isn't instantly as melodic and polished as Carly's, the words are no less sincere. The song turns into a duet in the middle, with the chorus of "...and I, I feel like I'm alive" repeated a few times. It's a fantastic track, destined to become a staple in their live arsenal. In fact, the track explodes live with Tom's insane drumming and hardcore-influenced shouted vocals.

The last track needs no explanation -- it's a cover of "Waiting Room" by Fugazi. They've played this track live for some time now and on this demo it sounds great. It's not quite as fun as it live -- there's less shouting and crowd participation (obviously) -- but what is? It's easy to write off a band covering Fugazi as a gimmick but it totally works for this two-piece. Especially when looking at how both bands conduct themselves -- fiercely DIY.

This is a great teaser for those who are eagerly awaiting a followup to Their Dreams Are Dead, But Ours Are... The Golden Ghost!, one of my favorite records of last year. The tracks are solid and when played live they are even fiercer than here -- Tom's drumming has to be impossible to capture on tape and Carly's manic keyboard playing adds a lot of character. I caught them at their first show at Gilman and it was awesome; it's nice to see a band who's so happy to be making music. However, this demo CD is obviously not the best introduction to the duo -- it's an unpolished demo, not a final product. For those wanting a good way to meet them, pick up The Golden Ghost online or at a show. -punknews.org


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