One today that I think might interest a few of you. “Embrace” is the debut album by a Santa Cruz sextet called Sleepy Sun, who you could place as very much part of a new wave of Californian heavy psych. Since we were talking about the area’s titan trees on Friday, this quote from the band stood out: “It comes more from Northern California itself more than any scene or city. There is truly nowhere on Earth like our little corner of the country where the redwoods smother the ocean.”
I don’t have a huge amount of time this morning because we’re on deadline, so apologies if this one comes across as little more than a string of comparisons. The thing is, Sleepy Sun come from the same blessed spot as, yep, Comets On Fire, and could probably be bracketed alongside fellow newcomers like Crystal Antlers.
But as the clean, needly “New Age” rears up, Sleepy Sun reveal themselves as probably closer kin to Black Mountain, perhaps, with Amber Webber at the helm, or comrades in the jurassic lurch of Blue Cheer-descendants like Dead Meadow. There’s a transfigured, damaged blues vibe to plenty of this, too, which calls to mind variously Jefferson Airplane, a less supine Brightblack Morning Light or even, weirdly, Kim Gordon (possibly Free Kitten more than Sonic Youth, mind).
Sleepy Sun aren’t averse to slouching about and taking their time this way, though, so a pleasurably desolate song like “Lord” turns out to be countrified, piano-driven and reminiscent of Amber Webber’s Black Mountain spin-off, Lightning Dust. PJ Harvey’s contributions to Josh Homme’s last Desert Sessions jam, too.
But it’s the freakouts, predictably, which hit hardest, none more so than the really long one, “White Dove”, which occasionally spins into the orbit of Bardo Pond. Rachael Williams is an intense and powerful presence at the heart of these songs, and I love the way that you can occasionally hear her whooping far down in the mix as the twin guitars hurtle and spiral off towards some kind of cosmic resolution.
It’s a very cool record. Check them out at www.myspace.com/sleepysun and let me know, as ever, what you think.