Sleepy Sun – [Album]

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Remember the first time you heard Jane's Addiction, Dinosaur Jr. or Pavement, reader? Back when those bands started, they were capable of doing some pretty awesome things; early in Jane's career, they were able to make the smallest acts seem totally profound with the help of some classic rock histrionics (see “Standing In The Shower, Thinking” – for example) while Dinosaur Jr. balanced incredibly high decibel levels against shockingly articulated composition and Pavement made noise and texture an integral part of their compositions. All three bands were capable of making enormous, ambitious sounds, but they were also able to collapse them down so that they fit easily into a college rock snob's paradigm of what thought-provoking musical genius was; they'll likely live forever because of it too. That they left an indelible mark on rock is apparent as one listens to Sleepy Sun's new album (their fourth, but first without singer Rachel Fannan) because, note-for-note and tone-for-tone, a great mix of all three essences bleeds through.

The ears of those who remember the early days of the “alt-rock revolution” (in the mid- to late-Eighties) will immediately be tweaked as the guitar tones of Matt Holliman and Evan Reiss explode out of “The Lane,” assisted by the exotic, tango rhythm produced by drummer Brian Tice. The sound is unmistakably “alt-” in that, while similar to and in-step with the modern rock radio tastes of the moment, it's just ever-so-slightly skewed from the norm and will immediately spark curiosity as a result. That curiosity becomes wonder and quickly escalates into adoration when singer Bret Constantino pipes through with a wunder-voice equal parts Peter Pan and Perry Farrell, and sets the hook in listeners; they'll be excited to see what turns Sleepy Sun takes on their first trip, because how they've progressed thus far just feels so vibrant.

There proves to be no shortage of reward for that interest, as the record continues. Tracks like “Galaxy Punk” (which might be the best amalgamation of punk and space rock on a record to date), “11:32” (which is only about four minutes long – don't worry) and “Everywhere Waltz” all present Sleepy Sun as a band of players who were as influenced by the giants of classic rock (Zep, Floyd, The Dead) as they were by punk and alternative rock, but also as a band disinterested in joining the ranks of any of those camps; as one listens, it becomes clear that Sleepy Sun is more interested in realizing their own vision than they are about paying tribute to venerable times and names gone by. The proof of that intention lies in cuts like “Outside,” “Thielbar,” “Slowdown” and the title track – which all gel together on a more consistent tempo and make the most of lower volumes, a more intimate approach and a less heavy-handed attack (although the title track does use volume for contrast and to move the song along) –  and may prove to be the direction that the band takes on future releases; a possibility implied by the more precious nature of the quieter tracks.

As the album's title track slinks through to close Maui Tears, listeners won't be able to stop themselves from wondering what might be on the horizon for Sleepy Sun. While the loss of a singer usually casts a band's future into question, the number of new possibilities that this record and the sound on it opens up is pretty incredible. With the album playing the way it does, Sleepy Sun may find itself cast in the role of the next big “Only band that matters” because (as has happened before) rock has spontaneously been picked up en masse by the record-buying public again. Nothing's a given in that regard but, listening to this record, even assuming that such an event is possible speaks volumes of Maui Tears' promise.


Sleepy Sun – Maui Tears – “Galaxy Punk” – [mp3]


Maui Tears
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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