Whether droning madly, spiralling into cascades of infinitely echoing vocals or kicking back with their blissed-out take on classic Americana rock, Sleepy Sun are a band that demand your attention. Formed in Santa Cruz and now based in San Francisco, this intense sextet are set to release their breathtaking debut album, Embrace, in May.
Recorded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in January 2008, the album is the sound of West Coast psychedelia updated for the late noughties. Golden Artifact was conceived in the band's Santa Cruz living room, nicknamed The Dungeon for its low ceilings, low lighting, and various smells, and sounds like a dark incantation. Thunderous freakout New Age, meanwhile, was written after watching every Hellraiser and Jim Henson film in succession. Tellingly, this unique band's catchphrase is 'Let's Get Weird'.
Comprising Brian Tice (drums), Jack Allen (bass), Rachael Williams (vocals, haberdashery & interpretive dancing) Bret Constantino (vocals & harmonica), Evan Reiss (guitars) and Matt Holliman (guitars) - all 22 and 23, the band met in the counter-cultural hub city of Santa Cruz, California, citing "pizza, horticulture, Neil Percival Young," as common interests. "With the forest and ocean as our back drop, we were drawn to each other as fellow musicians, friends, and lovers" they say.
Drawing musical inspiration from Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Can and Creation Records, they forged their sound in intense jams, "free flowing, heady, 'where am I?' type jamming."
Much as they loved Santa Cruz (and its "rogue black metal shows under the cover of night and redwood elders, dank caves that eventually meet the salty ocean water and nights on the beach dancing naked to drums in the moonlight,"), they relocated to San Francisco to throw themselves into city life. "We hit the ground rolling and have been shoveling coal in the engine ever since," they say. Highlights of the San Francisco years have included opening for psych legend Rodriguez at the Great American Music Hall.
Though they're in the one-time home of psychedelia, it's not San Francisco per se that influences their sound. "It comes more from Northern California itself more than any scene or city," they say. "There truly is nowhere on Earth like our little corner of the country where the redwoods smother the ocean."
What are you waiting for? Let's Get Weird!