The Slide Machine has been around longer than most of this year's other Bands to Watch, which is strange because they're among the youngest of the bunch. Only recently has the full lineup been able to drink legally in the bars where they've been performing for the past two and a half years.

Aging - and the increased connections that come with it - is one of two factors that have combined to help the hard-hitting psych-rock band build a buzz in Columbus this past year. The second is closely tied but wholly distinct: maturity.

The quintet's style has oscillated wildly since it formed in late 2005, not long after three of its members graduated from Dublin Coffman High School. Now they're settling into a signature sound and learning to write songs rather than string together disjointed riffs.

"Our style is changing a lot slower than it ever has," singer and guitarist Jeff Kleinman said.

The Slide Machine still thrives on Matt Haws' righteous organ, prehistorically heavy crunch from rhythm section Nick Tolford and Mark Himmel, and monster guitar riffs from Kleinman and guitarist Alfie Cicone. Those factors are filtered into concise songs built around Kleinman's haunting vocal melodies.

The "Bloodbirds" 7-inch, released last fall on local imprint Nice Life, captured those changes in full, presenting a band poised to make noise beyond the tiny Columbus dives it frequents.

While that record was The Slide Machine's first release, it wasn't their first recording. Not one but two attempts to complete a full-length record have gone off the rails at the last minute.

The first time, it was an accident. Months of hard work went down the drain when a hard drive bit the dust. The band re-recorded the same music but decided to scrap it, releasing the 7-inch instead and starting work on an entirely new album.

"We wanted the first release to be a little bit more focused," Tolford said.

Now a new set of factors is in play: The goal is to write, record and possibly release the new album by the end of this year. The band might tour at length this summer, but they'll more likely stick to weekends on the road while members hurry to finish college. Then, if all goes well, their travels will begin in earnest.

"Hopefully," Himmel said, "that will all align."