23 January 2008

Band of the Week: The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep are Danny, Sonya, and Gabe from Brooklyn, NY. You might already be familiar with them as a result of their well-received 2006 debut Son of the Tiger which won them many fans both at home as well as across the country and, likely, around the world. The Village Voice once called them "easily New York's best unknown" and a variety of musical taste makers hyped the band, with Playback:stl calling them "...a fully formed psych-rock beast, equally capable of soothing with gentle melodies as it is of slaughtering with a menacing attack."

Still, there was something missing from the record for me. Vocals were largely buried and/or mostly absent on Son of the Tiger, yes. But I can swing with instrumental post-rock jams. No doubt. No doubt. However, some kind of overall je ne sais quoi was missing from the record - a certain something that propels the band to rare heights in person, in concert. The touch of magic that reinterprets a band's live show and translates it into the language of what sounds great in the studio was simply absent. These are intangible notions, but most likely are the source of the average critical response to Son of the Tiger. On their second full-length effort, Sleep Forever, it appears as though The Big Sleep have found this whatchamacallit and wholly captured it on record. It's as simple as this: if you smiled at the potential shown by The Big Sleep previously, be prepared to shout.

"Bad Blood" begins as a perfect fusion of post-rock and post-punk, a bit of Mogwai mixed with an Interpol-esque drum beat. The beginning of "Coffee & TV" by Blur, if I'm being honest. At first it might seem as though this is the same, solid, Big Sleep you're accustomed to hearing. However, within a few short measures the band makes it clear they've developed beyond Son of the Tiger into a land that is entirely their own. Part Pretty Girls Make Graves slice and dice, part Sonic Youth blast off, "Bad Blood" finds Sonya's vocals cutting right through the mix with the coordinated attacks of Danny and Gabe accelerating consistently from the beginning of the track right through the song's finish line. Racing. Check your pulse if "Bad Blood" doesn't get you moving... etc etc. Gone is any hint of a band that meanders its way through moments of their songs; instead The Big Sleep has evolved ever-so-slightly by sharpening their edges and perfecting their unique snarl.

The second track they've made available from their upcoming sophomore effort Sleep Forever is the familiar "Pinkies". Familiar, that is, if you've seen The Big Sleep live before. This song takes the band into the lofty, skyscraping, shoegazer realm of Ride, as Danny mans the mic and lays down melodic guitar shreds that evolve from understated to jaw-dropping. The rhythm section stays right there with him throughout, rising to the top at just the right moment before letting the guitars rightfully, powerfully, close out the track. Put this one on repeat, and make it loud. "Pinkies" is frankly irresistible.

Abundant praise and early comparisons to Sonic Youth and My Bloody Vanlentine did a bit of a disservice to The Big Sleep. Yet somehow they've remained focused, drawing on what makes them unique and amplifying their strengths with great success. Here's to hoping that the premature hype the first time around won't make you hesitate to check out the band when the timing is right, because the time to let this band (back) into your life is now. With a live show/record release here in New York scheduled for February and countless dates across the US sure to follow, 2008 is shaping up to be the year of The Big Sleep. No shit, there's proof below.

"Bad Blood"

Visit The Big Sleep on MySpace.

See The Big Sleep live: 21 February @ Mercury Lounge (Sleep Forever record release party).
In the recent past, the following bands have been featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week:
Pete and the Pirates
Dead Confederate
Throw Me The Statue
Screaming Tea Party
Pale Young Gentlemen
Department of Eagles


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Anonymous said...

both of these songs are AMAZING

Javier said...

For real, I think this new Big Sleep album is going to be one of the years best.

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