Sleepies – Weird Wild World

Release date – 21/08/2012 (Godmode/16oh)
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Sleepies Weird Wild WorldA lot of the records I’ve liked so far this year have been pitched as ‘punk’ but I’ve found them to have more in common with some of the more experimental/noise, dare I say, grunge bands of the late eighties/early nineties. They owe a lot to the likes of Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Iggy Pop and, in some cases, My Bloody Valentine. Most of the time I’m left wondering if I like these bands because I’ve suddenly been turned on to punk, or because they remind me of the ethos and invention of my favourite acts. Case in point here are The Men understudies, Sleepies, with their second full length album ‘Weird Wild World’. I say understudies because both of their records have been produced by The Men’s Ben Greenburg, and their sound takes on a similar ‘pile driver’ sound to it. Sleepies are similarly shape-shifting in their musical approach too.

Hailing from Bushwich, New York, Sleepies are a three piece comprising Thomas Seely on lead guitar and vocals, Josh Intrator on bass and Max Tremblay on drums.

First track ‘Cool Boy’ is light, loud, fast and slow. Seely’s vocal sounds unhinged from the start and it’s difficult to grasp what kind of tone they’re trying to set. Sounding close to Pixies territory, it’s vaguely menacing. It’s loud and unpredictable.

‘Combat’ follows and steps up the tempo with relentless drums and changing chords. It sounds almost akin to Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation. The track gets faster and faster, finding its own stream of melody without losing a beat, before it returns to the original riff and builds again. It’s chaotic, exciting, and a phenomenal demonstration of the kind of structure and speed Sleepies are capable of. It’s obvious that they came to play, and they mean business. With tunes like this they are already worthy of The Men’s crown.

‘Strange Feelings’ starts with distortion and begins with a slow menacing tempo. It’s louder than hell. Seely’s throw-away vocals fit the tune perfectly. Repetition and build are key to the structure, and its drums and central riff are unrelenting. You can imagine this track live would probably shake the ground. It’s difficult not make another Sonic Youth comparison here, but Seelys’ slackereque vocals almost channel Thurston Moore. High praise indeed.

Title track ‘Weird Wild World’ is a simple instrumental workout. It’s probably the lightest offering here, and hums along oblivious to the experimental noise it’s surrounded by.

After the calm of the previous track comes ‘Got A Way’, with it’s growling guitars and 200mph tempo. For the speed and intensity Sleepies have, they always manage to retain a strong semblance of simple tune and never come off the rails completely. If evidence of Ben Greenburg’s influence was anywhere on the record it’s here. With pile-driver production and stop-start twitch punctuating the track, it’s probably my favourites on the album.

More crashing guitars usher in ‘Our Ways’ and Sleepies really show the depth of sound they can build. Multiple riffs and distorted bass lines fill the track sounding both sparse and filled with noise. Mid-album ‘Setback’ is furious and the most like you would expect a traditional punk record to sound. Vocals are spit over more snarling guitars and unrelenting drums. It’s fast, simple and angry. Just how it should be.

For an album of this length, ‘Waste Water’ is something of an epic, weighing in at just over four minutes. It showcases almost all of Sleepies musical styles and feels like multiple songs rolled into one. The recurring chorus, ‘We waste water, we don’t give a fuck about it’ feels like a veiled comical anthem of rebellion – the sentiment being that there is so much wrong with the world it’s difficult to know where to start.

‘Terra Firma’ is closest to ‘classic punk’ circa Sham 69 or The Buzzcocks, working as a homage to the British bands of the late seventies. It’s simple and it’s angry.

Single release ‘Seriously’ is like a car crash curated by Iggy Pop. The vocals are lazy and unhinged. ‘I take this all very seriously’, sings Seely, ‘It’s just a fucking job. Drop dead’ before launching into an onslaught of guitar noise terror. It’s scary and hilarious at the same time. It’s clear they’ve selected their idols carefully, and chosen well.

Sleepies have made a record of huge ambition and technical prowess, and their sound is expansive, polished and sometimes terrifying. I would imagine their live act is similarly intense. With backing from probably the most exciting guitar band in the world currently (The Men) I have no doubt they will continue to thrill and amaze. Without a doubt this is one of the most accomplished records of the year.

Weird WiId World can be purchased iTunes, and on vinyl directly from 16oh

Mike Conyard