Sleepy Kitty | 01.17.14

SleepyKitty 75And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a record release.

 

 

 

SleepyKitty 500

The Planetariam/Off Broadway, St. Louis

Many long months ago, we in the 63118 and surrounding zip codes were teased with the tantalizing, dangling carrot of a brand-spanking-new Sleepy Kitty album. It was yanked out of our grasp and its release delayed until the beginning of 2014. It’s hard to wait. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be so many tempting, obnoxious cliches about patience, virtues, and all that gab jockeying for position in this introductory paragraph. Oh, to hell with it: We say things like “You can’t rush a good thing” because you shouldn’t, and that something good is “worth the wait” because it just is. These sentiments are all true when it comes to Projection Room. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time to make things just right, especially when the end result is so superb. From the artwork (including a photo by the late Bob Reuter, a beloved son of St. Louis) to the delicious vinyl, so shiny and red you want to take a bite out of it, the look is as simple, sharp, and effortlessly cool as the style of its creators, Evan Sult and Paige Brubeck.

And the sound? Well, holy shit, folks. Buckle up.

Projection Room is a righteous thrill ride through the twists and turns of sexy, poppy art-rock, compositions, complete with field recordings, howling, coos, doo-wopping ooo’s and ah’s, looping vocal segments, fuzzed out guitar bliss, Sult’s razor-sharp drumming, and Brubeck’s sweetly naughty vocals. I will warn you: You are going to want to grab hold of someone and make out with them. It’s that kind of record.

It’s also the kind of record worthy of a laser show. When you can fill the Planetarium for two straight nights with people lying on their backs watching your music become translated into light, you are doing something right. Laserist (contrary to popular belief among five of my friends, the title is not “laserologist”) Brian Wirthlin crafted a fantastical dreamscape of color to complement Sleepy Kitty’s musical creation. Butterflies, exotic birds, shimmering aurora borealis, sunlight on water, and spirographs on acid danced over our heads at various moments, each image pulling meaning out of the song and the viewer into the sound. I got a little nauseated and did have to close my eyes during most of the song “Batman: The Ride,” but then again, I got a little nauseated and had to keep my eyes closed on the Batman ride at Six Flags, too.

One week later, the band followed up the laser show listening parties with a live show at Off Broadway to celebrate the album’s release. Newly minted local band Armadillo kicked off the night, and though I only caught a couple of songs, I loved what I heard. I was not alone. Throughout the rest of the evening there was a really positive buzz about their set.

Next up, Bugchaser put everyone’s ear plugs to the test. I cannot describe them any better than haikulou.com.

Getting prog-ier

And getting stonier, too

Deep Purple on crank.

The third opening act, Chicago’s Bailiff, has a style so hodgepodge that it proves completely ridiculous to even rattle off the list of genres that inspire their sound. Instead I’ll just say that it’s a smooth and tasty mix indeed. We lured Sleepy Kitty away from Chicago and I say we try to do it again with these fine fellows.

The energy in Off Broadway was purring at full throttle when Sleepy Kitty took the stage. Sult and Brubeck interspersed songs from their first album, Infinity City, with songs from the new release, and to call the crowd receptive is a gross understatement. There were points when I was unsure that the floorboards were gonna make it. I saw no fewer than three sets of people high five each other, grins all over the place, and to the side of the stage, members of Bugchaser attempting to contort themselves into a combined human pretzel. Sleepy Kitty is in the business of making merriment along with music.

Highlights of the set included the darkly pristine pop of “Nothing = You” as well as “Don’t You Start” and “Godard Protagonist Inflection,” both of which showcase the band’s masterful ability to build a mood to the sweetest release. The final song, the band’s most fuck-all amazing version of “Seventeen” I’ve ever heard them do, was a lit match in a powder keg. The audience absolutely lost it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a record release. | Janet Rhoads

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