Release Date: Jul 7, 2009
Record label: ATP
It's only fitting that bluesy psych wanderers Sleepy Sun are based in San Francisco. Even if many of their most immediate inspirations aren't from the City by the Bay, the fragile, folky moments and acid rock bluster on their debut album, Embrace, embody the vibe associated with San Francisco since the '60s. It also makes perfect sense that Embrace, which the band self-released in 2008, was picked up for wider distribution by ATP, the boutique label of the experimental music festival All Tomorrow's Parties.
Eddie Van Halen once remarked that the most amazing thing about Led Zeppelin was that, for a band often cited as the godfathers of heavy metal, so much of their repertoire was acoustic. Theirs was a reputation built not on being the loudest band all the time, but rather at just the right time. It's a lesson that San Francisco-via-Santa Cruz sextet Sleepy Sun have taken to heart-- their debut album, Embrace, dispenses its earth-quaking riffage in such carefully measured, perfectly spaced-out rations, it tricks you into thinking the band is much heavier than it actually is.
Sleepy Sun takes a certain amount of pride in its weirdness, but this should surprise no one with even a vague understanding of California geography and culture. The band is based in San Francisco, for starters, but the kicker is that it moved there from Santa Cruz – the latter-day hippie capital of the world – and it’s with the former locale that Embrace clearly identifies. One listen to the first drum beats of the stoned-yet-militaristic New Age evokes images of a Peter Pan-style pow-wow complete with a communal peace pipe.
Arumble of priapic drums. A throbbing, degenerate bassline. Whispered sighs, squalling guitars. New Age, the opening track on Sleepy Sun's debut album, sucks its listeners into a primeval ritual calling on the LSD freaks and naked hippies who once communed in California's forests to stalk the earth again.