The Special Pillow - Sleeping Weird - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Special Pillow - Sleeping Weird

by Brian Thompson Rating:7 Release Date:2018-07-29
The Special Pillow - Sleeping Weird
The Special Pillow - Sleeping Weird

Since their inception more than two decades ago, The Special Pillow have created a distinct stew, marrying the flavors of string-heavy folk jammers with sensory psychedelia and 80s dream pop, making a home for themselves on the fringe of the indie rock community. With their sixth studio album, Sleeping Weird, the band continues to craft atmospheric pop gems, disguising their intricate layers of sound as a light-hearted, carefree summer romp.

Sleeping Weird pulls from a diverse crop of influences, often blending the culture of traditional folk music into upbeat rock songs, as on the title track that swings back and forth between fiddle-laden ballad and high energy rocker. But the aesthetic terrain doesn’t end there. The album blossoms into an intricate tapestry of genre tributes, at its most intriguing when incorporating vibrant R&B elements (“Catch Your Breath”), flowing beach vibes (“Her Dogs”), and even a lively horn section (“Hudson River Dreamboat”). The varied sound stems back to the band’s playful enthusiasm, which is the same tongue-in-cheek energy that finds many tracks being predicated on They Might Be Giants-style puns (“All My Exes Live In Vortexes”).

At its core, The Special Pillow is a jam band, with a clear and unshakable affinity for the likes of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Yo La Tengo. However, Sleeping Weird is peppered with short, bite-sized songs, many around two minutes in length, which makes it all the more thrilling when they are able to open up on meatier tracks like “Cryogenic Tomb” and “Paleolithic Axe.” Presumably, the band’s live show consists of improvisations built around the skeletons we see here. We are given a taste of what noodling these players are capable of achieving together, as rigid structure expands into jagged noise rock (“Flaming Skull”). Perhaps the limitations are imposed intentionally, reining in the raucous jam sessions that could easily grow tiresome if allowed to go on for any longer.

At a time when most musicians are struggling to capture the tumultuous political climate, The Special Pillow stick to what they know, and they are as electrifying as ever. Their way of combating the chaos is to jam into the void. For them, it is a labor of love, an uncontrollable expression that reaches a spiritual level. And they continue to be curators of taste, seasoning their songs with the flavors of their musical heroes. The result is a captivating stew that dives into the heart of Americana.

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