Hello Shindiggers!
This blog is no longer being updated, for news and reviews please head over to www.shindig-magazine.com
When you're there you can also sign up for the weekly newsletter to get the latest sent to your inbox.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Record Review - Sleepy Sun

Spine Hits
ATP Recordings LP/ CD

This San Francisco band of five brothers (fact or clever backstory fiction?) release their third album on the new ATP label. Having opened for Arctic Monkeys, Black Angels, and Low Anthem their hard yards are done and some time with the exposure of focus is due. Their biography calls them a “heavy pop machine” and that’s a pretty accurate description of where they are heading now. Their previous Zeppelin-flavoured work has been toned down on Spine Hits, though not completely eradicated. The effect of recording in the desert with Queens of Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal alumnus Dave Catching is apparent in the tones heard. I also immediately picked up a restless feel running through the album, as is they are playing for their lives, as if saying ‘it’s do or die for us’. Many songs have segments of differing tempos and feels, making for a disjointed feel. Still, the playing is muscular: overloaded guitars, big drum sound, and the gentle vocals creates a smart opposing dynamic.

‘Stivey Pond’ sets off with a foreboding brute of guitars before lightly skying into a wave of post-coital tenderness. ‘Siouxie Blaqq’ is a dreamy, brushed love letter superbly rendered with melodic deftness. "Boat Trip" has that spidery Velvets whimsy playfulness we all love, yet without the emotional impact a wayward junkie can have. ‘V.O.G.’ could be a Humbug off-cut - a good or bad thing depending on your love for Alex Turner and co.

Albums are usually so front-loaded with the best material it’s a strange sensation to find the opposite happening here. The last five tracks are all different and all mesmerizing. ‘Martyr’s Mantra’ is twisting, broody modern psychedelia a la Tame Impala/The Horrors. You sense Spiritualized/Verve in the long slow hazy opening to ‘Still Breathing’, though it makes way for a countrified yearn and strum and plaintive harmonica passage. It is five minutes of beauty beyond words. ‘Yellow End’ has a slight music box melody intro that blossoms into a blues rock-pop song covered with a black veil of melancholy. ‘Deep War’ drifts in, a wounded broody animal shot through with an arresting drunken voice of pain. We finish with ‘Lioness (Requiem)’, an approaching storm of Gilmour-y squalling guitars.

These cosmic travellers should not be lumped in with the current new wave of shoegaze bands (despite the vocals being pretty much recorded exactly as the Black Angels do). They have a strong identity, one steeped in progressive pop-rock of the early 70s and the alt-rock and shoegaze of the 90/00s. I foresee this album being played a lot in my house this summer, probably whilst lying back in the garden with friends. I can’t wait.

Phil Istine

No comments:

Post a Comment