Sleepies have a deceptively lazy name. If their music makes you sleepy, something’s wrong with you. According to a recent Noisey interview, they also considered Tires & Skunks as a name. That alone should be enough to pique your interest. Oh, and their new album Weird Wild World is fantastic, by the way.
Right off, there are going to be a lot of people comparing them to Nirvana with accusatory tones in their voices, but come on, didn’t that critique go out of style a few years ago? Sleepies are more reminiscent of Flipper (a huge influence on Nirvana) and Flop (who also happen to be an early ’90s Seattle band). If this means nothing to you, you should look up those two bands on YouTube immediately.
In opening track, “Cool Boy,” singer/guitarist Thomas’s vocals have an affected, laconic quality that might turn off some listeners, but be patient. It mellows out and grows on you quickly. All of the songs on Weird Wild World dig their way into your brain through your ears sorta like the eels from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but in a much more positive way.
Even if you might think you have Sleepies categorized as a Nirvana ripoff, by the time you get to “Combat” you will have changed your mind. This band is tight, with dense layers of feedback, guitars, drums, and bass that you can still hear individually. Like a doberge cake. But Sleepies are not sludgy.
AND THAT BASS. Thank you, Josh. Your subtlety is a dangerous weapon. The bass on this album is mesmerizing, especially in the extremely long fade out at the end of “Combat” (which is basically half of the song). With the echoey, distorted vocals and reverbed guitar the song achieves a sensation akin to Steve Severin and John McGeoch’s guitar assault throughout Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Juju album. Yeah, I know; it’s amazing, right?
“Strange Feelings” has a heavy, rhythmic guitar and bass attack, albeit one that trudges a bit more slowly than the previous two songs. Lyrically, I’m not even sure what’s going on here. “Got A Way” is obviously about the Heaven’s Gate cult, and by singing about such a bizarre and wonderful topic (not to mention, accurately described), I’ve gotta assume the other songs have more to them than words that don’t completely make sense to me. There are some female harmonies courtesy of Carrie Anne Murphy and some actually chunky bass, all of which combine for a shoegazey, early ’90s sound.
Interestingly, the title track is an instrumental, which starts off somewhat softly with strummed guitar, until the drums and some keyboards come in. “Our Ways” is merciless until everything but bass and drums drop out and lines like “life is a television shitting on you” stand out hilariously. “Setback” is another great song, with an insanely good opening.
What can be said about “Waste Water,” possibly the oddest tune of the bunch? The oft-repeated lyric “we waste water, we don’t give a fuck about it, we waste water” is either going to totally work for you or totally not. It comes off like some odd pro-environment message in print, but not in the song. I don’t know how else to explain it. Half way through, the song transforms from Jay Reatard-ish punk folk into something else and back again, with some violin thrown in, and then morphs into a hook-heavy segment, and then back again to the repeated line and the gentler sound.
“Terra Firma” is another sonic blast with lyrics that may or may not refer to buying locally grown produce? At any rate, it’s another song that grabs on to you right away. The last track, and the ostensible single, “Seriously,” is more akin to “Cool Boy” than the other songs on the album, with the snotty lyrics and delivery and off kilter guitar flailing. I love the anger of the line, “It’s just a fucking job!” especially now that I know these guys have multiple degrees and real jobs doing real things.
As far as being a punk, post-punk, or whatever the fuck kinda band you might think Sleepies are, I will say this: They sound crisp, but not in an overproduced, too-slick fashion. Everything sounds great and exactly the way you want to hear it. Listening to Sleepies’ evolution from their first release, 2009′s Join The Shark, you can actually hear them improving. I love what they’ve become. Weird Wild World is a great, instantly likeable, loud, weird album that you will want to listen to over and over again.
Weird Wild World was released August 21. It is available digitally through Godmode Records and on vinyl from 16oh Records. You can purchase either format (or both!) from the band’s website. Be sure to check out Sleepies’ previous releases on their Bandcamp page, too.
Thurs Aug 23: Chattanooga, TN w/ Dark Rides
Sluggo’s, 501 Cherokee Boulevard
Fri Aug 24: Asheville, NC
South French Board House
Sat Aug 25: Baltimore, MD w/ Roomrunner, Witch Hat, Whoarfrost & Monogamy Party
Open Space, 2720 Sisson Street
Sun Aug 26: Washington DC w/ True Head
Joint Custody, 2337 18th Street Northwest (all ages)
Wed Aug 29: Brooklyn, NY w/ Nude Beach, Naomi Punk (WA) & Shoxx
Death By Audio, 49 S 2nd St