Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Reviews:: The Sleepless Nights - Turn Into Vapour

Ok, we're a solid week into January, the holidays are finally over, and despite the warm weather we're having here on the east coast, winter is here. Unless of course you happen to live in one of those warm places that has no winter, in which case, you can ignore all this waffle. But for those of us about to endure the traditionally desolate months of January and February, good music is an essential aid in making it through to spring with one's sanity intact. Therefore, my first review of '08 brings you just that, good music to help you make it through the winter, and it comes in the form of The Sleepless Nights' new album, Turn Into Vapour.

I have to say, before I even heard this album, I was pretty sure I was going to like it. Is this a bad thing for a music "reviewer" to disclose? Perhaps, as there's usually an expectation that music reviewers are supposed to be impartial, un-biased, etc. and so forth. For many reasons, I am probably none of these things, but that is beside the point. The point I'm labouring to make is that if artists from two bands whose last records I enjoyed a great deal are together in a third band, chances are I'm going to pick up what said third band is putting down. The third band in this case is The Sleepless Nights, a collective that started out in 2004 as a trio, but is now comprised of A.A. Wallace, Andrew Sisk (Sisk is the lead man for Share, Wallace produced their debut), Matt McDonald (The Superfantastics), Jeffrey Pineau, Trevor Murphy, and Josh Pothier (both of The Establishment).

Granted, assuming you'll like an album because you like the work band members have done in other bands is far from the solidest music mathematics, but luckily for me, it works in spades where The Sleepless Nights new album is concerned. The first thing I noticed about Turn Into Vapour is that it simply sounds great. That isn't a very deep or sexified bit of description, but it's true. The album bio contains this tidbit: "the band uses production as a vital tool in transferring their exercised live attack into the studio", and this certainly pays dividends as the playing on each song is extremely tight. That's impressive When you consider every member is involved in at least one other project, and the impressiveness is taken up a notch when you consider they're melding six members into the cohesive sound found throughout the album.

Lyrically I also found this album impressive, mainly because even though the majority of the songs deal with depressing or even mundane topics, the band handles them with such an infectious exuberance that each one ends up as a "feel good" song. They run the gamut from purse snatching to longing for lost love to pedestrian rights, but I was in a constant state of head-bop through it all. Maybe it's because it really feels like the guys are having fun playing these songs and that flows through to the listener. Whatever it is, I'm on board.

Distortion, a pulsing bassline, and rapid-fire drumming set the stage on the album opener, the McFly-esque Allyson Got Robbed, a relentlessly catchy tale of muggings and indie chivalry. It opens with the line "Thuggin' ballers robbed my girl, they hit her from behind and they stole her purse", which I enjoy tremendously. Not because I enjoy gratuitous violence in my indie rock, but because it shows a sense of fun in a genre that's often painfully serious these days. Got Caught is great, the stellar drum and guitar work making it perhaps my favorite song on the album. The album bio mentions Dinosaur Jr. at some point, and the guitar work on this song easily brings to mind some J Mascis' noodlery. Marching band-ish drums open up All Andrew's Friends, a snyth-led track helmed by Sisk which presumingly describes friends he's had leave the Maritimes for the "new age" lifestyles offered by our some of the bigger cities our country has to offer.

Arabian Nights is a tale of longing for lost love which is laced with some catchy vocal ad-libs in the form of falsetto oo-oo's and group ahhhhh-ahhhh-ahhhh's which I enjoy. The instrumental breakdown is also quite good. The methodical Hang Up gets bonus points for being the only song in any genre I can think of that's intended as a message to drivers to get off their cell phones and pay attention for pedestrians and cyclists. It's fairly ironic that it derives from a relatively pedestrian friendly city like Halifax rather than places like Toronto or Montreal where walking or cycling can be taking your life in your hands. I suppose it's because we still have hope here, whereas Torontonians and Montrealers are too busy running for their lives. Breath Deep Tornado is not only the most electro-influenced track on the album, but it's also a tremendous hangover song that includes the line "My head spun like the rims, you see the hip hop stars displayin', on episodes of cribs". Good stuff? I think so. I also think the drum work on this song is good stuff (it's contributed in the liner notes to former full time member Mary Cobham, so big up to Mary).

Well, we're one week into 2008 and I already have a Halifax band for you to check out, I don't know if I'll be able to keep up that blistering pace, but if the rest year is full of releases like Turn Into Vapour, I won't have a problem. Seriously, it's eight very solid songs, so there's no hint of filler on here. Plus, eight songs, 2008? It's fate friend, you were meant to hear this album. Even if you ignored my Halifax-centric reviews all last year, don't sleep on this one.

MP3:: The Sleepless Nights - Got Caught

Better yet, catch them live if you're on the best coast:

Jan. 18 Charlottetown, PE Hunter's
Jan. 19 Saint John, NB Elwood's
Jan. 23 Montreal, PQ Casa Del Popolo
Jan. 24 Ottawa, ON Bytown Tavern
Jan. 26 Peterborough, ON The Spill
Jan. 27 Toronto, ON Sneaky Dee's (Wavelength)
Jan. 28 Toronto, ON Lee's Palace
Jan. 29 Hamilton, ON The Casbah
Jan. 31 Windsor, ON Avalon
Feb. 1 Bayfield, ON Black Dog
Feb. 7 Moncton, NB The Paramount
Feb. 9 Halifax, NS The Attic

Posted at 10:53 AM by naedoo :: 3 comments

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At 11:03 PM, Blogger Melanie did sayeth:

It's actually Jeffrey Pineau. Not Jeffery.


At 8:36 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Me fault! Fixed!


At 9:34 PM, Blogger Melanie did sayeth:

Haha excellent. I am sure he will be pleased.


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