(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CD review - Sleepy Sun, Spine Hits (2012)

Slacker psychedelic distraction

Sleepy Sun are back with their third offering, Spine Hits. Their last album, Fever (review here), featured a rich dynamic between Rachel Fanning's wistful playfulness and Brett Constantino's expressive weariness. Spine Hits continues the psychedelic vibe, but with Fanning out of the band, the balance has shifted away from its yin-yang of innocence and knowledge.

The new dynamic hasn't broken Sleepy Sun, but the feel is rawer and more driven. Several of the songs have a distracted undercurrent. Noisy upwellings fit the heady grooves, but also seem to seek the promise of oblivion. The folky elements from Fever are gone, but the psychedelic foundations remain.

Siouxsie Blaqq shows that Sleepy Sun can still summon the lazy rhythms of their past. With a haze of 1967 clinging to the changes, the bass line skips and the casual vocals drift by:
Ramble on, so they don't catch on
It's better to run than leave stepping stones
Tell me your secret, tell me before I ask
Where did you get yours? Where did you learn your tack?
The loose structure evolves, revealing little side rooms of tiny musical sections. The relaxed vibe leans towards Fever, but the building repetition of the bridge sprints into a Velvet Underground grind, opening the song for more modern noise to come in and dominate. It's an interesting little trip.

Sleepy Sun falls back to their Led Zeppelin influences on V.O.G. The opening guitar riff and throbbing beat are more modern, but Constantino evokes Robert Plant in his vocals and lyrics. The bridge interlude builds the energy then lets it dissipate into a Pink Floyd, open landscape jam.

Until now, Brett Constantino's comfortable flannel voice and personality have dominated Sleepy Sun's sound, but Spine Hits is just as anchored by Jack Allen and Brian Tice's playing. Allen's bass lines stand out on almost all of the tracks, not following the pulse so much as driving it. Even when he drops back to leave some space, it's like his gift to the guitars. Tice's drumming behaves much the same, throwing in tight fills and change ups to round out even the simple beats.

Sleepy Sun's recent shows have showcased these new songs in a looser form. That freer sound links back to their earlier sound. It will be interesting to see how the band moves forward from Spine Hits' slacker psychedelic distraction.

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