First off today, a quick reminder that Sir Richard Bishop is gracing Club Uncut at the Borderline tonight (March 1), with really strong support from Alexander Tucker and C Joynes. Tickets still available from Seetickets.com or on the door. See you there, hopefully.
Meanwhile, Sleepy Sun’s “Embrace” was a big favourite last year, so it’s nice to report that its follow-up, “Fever”, pretty much takes off where that one ended. “Marina” is right up there with “New Age”, a capacious, blasted, shapeshifting psych-blues that again points up the Santa Cruz band’s affinities with Black Mountain.
About four minutes in, though, “Marina” suddenly transforms into a tribal shakedown reminiscent of “Tusk”-era Fleetwood Mac. Soon enough, the stoner lurch returns, intensified and amplified. Nevertheless, it’s a palpable influence that crops up at intervals through the whole record – not least on the silvery boy/girl folk-pop of track two, “Rigamaroo” – that suggests Sleepy Sun are playing a different, possibly bigger, game than many of their psych contemporaries.
What’s remarkable about “Fever”, perhaps – apart from the generally terrific music – is how neatly the band manage to fuse this crystalline pop (well, pop-ish, from a certain ‘70s rockist perspective) imperative with some monolithic desert jams that are heavy enough to match up to those of Dead Meadow. Re-reading my blog on “Embrace”, it strikes me I’m hitting on a lot of similar reference points but, again, I’m constantly reminded of Black Mountain, as the band switch back and forth from foot-down crunch to stark and airy spaces in which Rachael Williams can really breathe and stretch out.
There’s a more countrified feel this time out on, say, the relatively brief “Ooh Boy”, where the molten guitars are left to seethe in the distance, a model of more-or-less restraint. Soon enough, though, they’ve moved further upfront into “Acid Love”, where fuzzy afterburn in the tradition of Earth backs up a distrait gospel sigh not dissimilar to Spiritualized (I guess this is where I drop the Brightblack Morning Light tag again).
It’s easy to take the whole album – indeed, maybe all of Sleepy Sun’s two albums – as one continuous slow-burn, but there are also enough dynamic switches and neat ideas to promise that the band won’t get stuck in a rut anytime soon. The formula of reveries followed by rock-outs might be predictable – albeit hugely enjoyable – but the way they make some of the transitions can be imaginative: wait for the harmonica and breakbeat interlude that ushers in the final thrust of “Desert God”, particularly. Probably said this before as well, but I really ought to see this lot live…