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The Sweet Black Bear


Slot was:
Billy Rivkin: Guitar
Eddie Alterman: Drums & percussion
Sue Lott: Bass & vocals

Tracks: 1, 3, 5, 11, & 12 where recorded & mixed at The White Room in Detroit MI., by Al Sutton.
Tracks: 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, & 10 where recorded & mixed at Playground in Chicago, IL., by Keith Cleversley. 
Track 9 was recorded on the 4 track in the basement of the Slot House by Billy Rivkin.
Mastered by Chris Goosman @ Solid Sound - Ann Arbor, MI.
Artwork by Sue Lott.

Reviews for The Sweet Black Bear...

All Music Guide

Detroit's Slot spent much of their career out on the fringes of the alternative rock nation, recording a series of EPs filled with sonic references to the era's leading bands, yet showing too much versatility to find any single category capable of containing them, and, by extension, any specific audience they could attract as their own. By the time Slot recorded their first full-length, The Sweet Black Bear, in 1995, their time was effectively up, and the album was left unreleased, seemingly forevermore. But when Slot guitarist Billy Rivkin -- whose wife, vocalist/bassist Sue Lott, and drummer Eddie Alterman completed the band's lineup -- succumbed to cancer in 2004, a cadre of Motor City-based music professionals associated with Small Stone Records took it upon themselves to dig up this LP's masters and finally make it available to the public. And so it was that The Sweet Black Bear arrived in 2006, like a smoking silver DeLorean, ready to whisk aging Gen-Xers back to the decade that defined them via Slot's deliberate grooves, quivering power chords, and hauntingly sweet vocals. From start to finish, the album's songs ebb and surge like dark gray waves upon Lake Michigan: too restrained to surf away on; too forceful to paddle out of -- and positively begging listeners to give in to their irresistible undertow and be swept away on memory's tides. Among the notables, "Orchid Taster" and "You Made Me Do It" take the psychedelic sludge of early Soundgarden with a fistful of downers; "Crushing Your Head" is pure My Bloody Valentine, minus the visit to the ear doctor one day later; and "An Evening at Eastpointe" drains the excess testosterone from Stone Temple Pilots' "Vasoline" while proving just as hypnotic. On their lonesome, not a one of these even sniffs at commercial potential that might contradict Slot's unheralded mid-‘90s demise, but as part and parcel of The Sweet Black Bear‘s whole, their powers are magnified into a surprisingly seductive listening experience, and ultimately offer a fitting tribute to the Detroit rock community's fallen family member.

- Eduardo Rivadavia

September 27th, 2010

Cosmic Lava

Sometimes Scott Hamilton, who's the head of Small Stone Records, is good for an unexpected release. SLOT is definitely among this surprises, because they have not much in common with hard, bluesy 70's-inspired riffing, what doesn't mean that they don't own a certain kind of heaviness. This album is a compilation of old unreleased recordings from the early 90's, because SLOT split-up in 1995 and they won't reunite, because one of the members died of cancer. That's a real tragedy. It's astonishing, that this band never received a lot of attention during their exsistance, because their songs have a lot of passionate charm, emotional depth and they are performed by excellent musicians. But it's not new, that the mass of consumers are following the latest trend, while real good bands are criminally overlooked. SLOT played a combination that consists of driving basslines, female vocals and psychedelic guitar-sounds, and there have been times when music like this was called Indie-Rock. Well, anyway, here are a few songs which remind me to early Yo La Tengo, My Bloody Valentine and later Sonic Youth, but nevertheless SLOT have created their own musical identity. The smooth and hypnotic vocals of bass-player Sue Lott fits perfectly to the dynamic and flexible drums, while guitarist Billy Rivkin (R.I.P.) enriches this foundation with an numerous amount of different guitar-sounds, that range from straight riffs to sonic cascades. 'The Sweet Black Bear' include twelve songs, that are rich on variety and even a bit of jazz is flown into their sound what doesn't mean that they really play jazz. It's more that this free spirit is part of SLOT's music, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of improvisation was part of their live shows. This is an extremly atmospheric album, which is able to enchant the listener with its emotions and creativity, and it's good to know that this music is now available for anyone. To make is more perfect, the booklet contains informative linernotes from Big Chief guitarist Phil DŘrr, who was a good friend of the band. -KK
March 1st, 2008

3:16 Productions

Sadly, the latest release from Michigan eclectic '90s rockers Slot is the trio's final offering, as this 12-track disc is not only a compilation of the band's unreleased works, but also a tribute to Slot's guitarist Billy Rivkin, who lost his battle with cancer in 2004. Unearthed from 1995, the songs on THE SWEET BLACK BEAR display a top-notch strand of shoegazing indie rock with dashes of grunge rock bark, psychedelic rock starchasing, and desert rock heft intertwined, complete with dollops of atmospheric feedback and sustain, angelic female vocals, and guitars that meld harsh tones with lush waves of swirling distortion on cuts such as "Bat Nav". Projecting its underground dream rock vibes with a set of balls and a discernible bite, Slot's swan song yields fond memories and a plethora of excellent heartfelt rock with a timeless expiration date.

Mike SOS
March 7th, 2007

Alternative Press

4 stars

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Final 1995 recordings of highly underrated mid-Š90s Michigan-based atmospheric groove merchants who once shared an AP cover with Iggy Pop (AP 62, Sept. 1993).

WHAT'S NEW: If you've never heard their vibrant mix of massive riffs and textural iridescence, well, it's all new to you, punker. DonĂt feel bad: Back then, hipster scum were raving about Sebadoh's Bubble And Scrape instead of embracing Slot's majesty.

IS IT WORTH IT: Absolutely. Consider: When the band played a one-off gig at SXSW this year, they needed two players to replicate the vision of guitarist Billy Rivkin, who succumbed to cancer in 2004. It's the greatest legacy you've never heard.

June, 2007

High Bias

Back in the early 90's, what was once called college, indie or underground rock suddenly became alternative rock and, for a brief period, took over the world. Not that Detroit's Slot paid any mind. The trio moved at its own pace, releasing its psychedelic shoegazer riff rock on a series of CD EP's whenever it felt like it, unconcerned with acclaim or commercial pressure. The band split in 1995, having never gotten the attention it surely deserved, and guitarist Billy Rivkin's death from cancer in 2004 assured that no resurrection would occur.

Except that reality can often be stranger than fiction. After its dissolution, Slot left behind a batch of unreleased recordings. Now given life by Small Stone, The Sweet Black Bear is a reminder that Slot is a band worth building a legend around. Rivkin's lysergic guitar wash ebbs and flows, but never without direction-there are real hooks here' derived from riff-oriented rock & roll but stretched out like rubber bands that never quite snap. Bassist Sue Lott's cooing vocals add depth and texture; like Kristin Hersh, she's both coolly detached and emotionally lucid at the same time. Further, the trio isn't content to just coast on its undeniably appealing sonics. This band writes real songs, with sturdy melodies and enough structure to keep the psychedelic stormfront in check. Balancing swirling feedback and distortion with rock-solid rhythms and melodies to die for, "Jagernaut," "An Evening in Eastpointe," "Crushing Yer Head" and the intriguingly titled "Starcock" are the kind of tracks that should have made Slot the object of adoration by a sizeable cult.

And the band may yet be-the release of The Sweet Black Bear has occasioned a reformation of Slot for Small Stone's South By Southwest showcase, with former Big Chief axeman Phillip Durr and SS grand poobah Scott Hamilton (both longtime Slot friends and fans) on guitar. Slot lives again, on that stage, in these grooves and soon in the minds and hearts of anyone who loves psychedelic rock with heart.

Michael Toland
March 6th, 2007

Lolipop Magazine

Alternative rock was a great god-damn moment- it was NOT a simple thing tagged ˘grunge÷ but a time when lotsa action thought unrelated was bundled into the same zone as a functional consequence- not a marketing value. A moment when various sounds and approaches had been bandied about and accepted; jamming acid rock, funk, freak folk, hard rock and other twisted roots of the world wide rock tree through the avant punk wormhole. A world where The Laughing Hyenas fractured howl would share the stage with Scrawls churning punk absorbed folk-rock without a twitch out of the audience. Not One Fucking Twitch. Why? Because each of the bands had an identity and focus that gaveĂm gravity in the same cultural space: I.e. ˘lets take it to the stage÷.

Slot was a band that personified this freedom to play rock music unencumbered by hipster/non-hipster marketing concerns. Hey, if they wanted to slip down the same slope as the Too Pure labels roster they could. If they wanted to ride the Grand Funk Railroad, ditto. Miles Davis, ˘On the Corner÷, The Byrds ˘Eight Miles High÷, etc. Grind it up; itĂs all grist for the mill. Now you can hear where they ended up a dozen years ago. The reason why youĂd want to is the sweet black bear is a good listen. Freed up by the ˘anyone can play ˘ DIY* of punk whatnot gals got out of the basement and onto the stage. Now ˘equality÷ in and of itself is useless to art-it matters when it frees up more talented people to get after it.

Slots ˘getting after÷ has garage pulse drumming that could drive anyones mom to frug as well as cruise around the pulsing orb as well as any band that loaded Can, Faust, and Neu in their shopping cart. The singing is dreamy in a shoegazer way, directly plainspoken or a phased sound in the background, no matter what she does it works. The guitar clangs and drifts, punches the rock button and fills nooks and crannies with psychedelic burn from three different eras. The bass rumbles and throbs ranging around and circling back to keep the groove intact. The tunes, yup the tunes are there. This records got the kinda songs that anyone wanting to fill out a set list and breakup their own thing could cover one and pretend its homegrown. If your throwing tracks on the ipod why donĂt you slip a couple of these between Throwing Muses, Morsel, Circle, Nirvana, Moonshake, Raconteurs, Volcano Suns, QOTSA, Sonic Youth. Find out all about it@ www.smallstone.com

Craig Regala
March, 2007

The Cutting Edge

Slot comes to us more as a tribute piece than a catalog release from the Detroit label know for its passion in heavy rock. In the mid-Š90s Slot was a mainstay in the Motor City. Fronted by lead siren Sue Lott (vocals, bass) and her guitar-slinging husband Billy Rivkin, Joined by drummer Eddie Alterman they made their way around the mid-west preaching their own set of riff rock with pop overtones. In 2004 Billy succumbed to cancer ending that chapter in the bands career. In an effort to preserve the bandĂs legacy, Phil D?rr (ex-Big Chief guitarist) stepped in as executive producer to extend their unique blend of monotone rumble. A huge fan of the band, D?rr with input from the remaining members, selected 12 cuts that spanned their existence. Slot favored EPs over albums because it allowed them to write and record in small, affordable batches. Basically the magic of The Sweet Black Bear is that it reflects the groupĂs most passionate singles.

From the subdued, melodic beginning of ˘Orchid Taster÷ the nature of the trio is keenly obvious. The guitar patiently remains in check while bass and drum weave their harmonized rhythm, SueĂs folksy voice painting the canvas. As the music builds Billy is given the nod and allowed to explode in a distorted, feedback reverberation. The excitement of that moment radiates through ˘Crushing Yer Head÷, the bass-driven ˘You Made Me Do It÷ and pounding ˘Last TuesdayĂs Child÷. For reckless lyrical abandon ˘Stealing From The Future÷ takes the womanĂs perspective of relationship doldrums to new heights. ˘Starcock÷ follows suit in raw demo form, a window into LottĂs engaging emotion. The true standout ˘Noon÷ is a fat piece of power pop backed by chunky guitars putting it in line with roughed up Veruca Salt crashing into Dead Moon. Counterpoise that to ˘Jagernaut,÷ a testicular, rugged number complete with pin-sharp solo runs and a wooly backend and you get the picture.

Todd K. Smith
February, 19th 2007 (Issue 63)


In the early '90's, the knucklehead metal and hedonistic rock factions got dope slapped by a new wave of alternative, indie rock bands that, contrary to what most of us knucklehead metal and hedonistic rock fans assumed, were pretty damn good. Some of them got categorized as grunge and went on to put Aquanet out of business, some served as the protozoa for hipster journals like Pitchfork Media and a genre known as ˘stoner rock,÷ and some just did their own thing at their own pace. Based on their posthumous release, The Sweet Black Bear, the first two could have/should have applied to Detroit's Slot, but in the end, they were a band that marched to their own beat.

From what I've gathered, the three-piece ű guitarist Billy Rivkin, drummer Eddie Alterman, and bassist/vocalist Sue Lott ű spent the majority of their time together recording CD-EPs. They managed to record a full-length's worth of music in 1995, but then disbanded. It probably would've remained forgotten had not Rivkin died of cancer in 2004. As it were, the remaining members and friends decided to release the full-length in tribute.

That classifies The Sweet Black Bear as a bittersweet album, as there's plenty to like about it. I can see how the band could have/should have fitted in during the alternative music explosion of the previous decade. They're heavy enough to appeal to the Soundgarden/Kyuss/Nirvana crowd, but the lush, seductive vocals and melodic instrumentation isn't too far removed from what you would've heard on 120 Minutes or your local college rock station. They're clever without being irritatingly so, never really direct in approach, and adept at not only juggling a handful of styles but making them all their own.

Not all of The Sweet Black Bear will stick - personally, I could've done with more heavy moments (hey, once a knucklehead metal fan, always a knucklehead metal fan). But there are enough killer moments (˘An Evening in Eastpointe÷ is but one example) to make up for lapses into watered down indie rock. Slot may not have made an immediate impression, but they still managed to make room for themselves in my head.

John Pegoraro
October 28th, 2006

Album Tracks

  1. Orchid Taster
  2. Crushing Your Head
  3. Stealing From the Future
  4. Noon
  5. An Evening at Eastpointe
  6. You Made Me Do It
  7. Bat Nav
  8. Last Tuesday's Child
  9. Starcock
  10. An Evening at Eastpointe (Playground Version)
  11. Jagernaut
  12. Emma Peel (The Remains of)

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