Like any great piece of art should, the new album by Sleepy Kitty demonstrates the ability of the artist to create a strong cohesive piece while allowing their influences to peek out from beneath the corner of the canvas.
Released on the Euclid Records label, the album titled Infinity City was recorded at various studios in St. Louis and Chicago mostly with Jason Hutto behind the board in the Gateway City and Tim Sandusky in the Windy City.
A St. Louis based duo consisting of Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult, the band originally began in 2007 as an art piece installation in their apartment. Suit's resume includes playing drums for '90s band Harvey Danger and recording with Bound Stems in the '00s. Meanwhile Brubeck started forming punk bands in her youth and upon arrival to Chicago formed the trio Stiletto Attack and later joining '60s pop devotees The Deccas. To keep everything completely in-house, the duo runs a screen printing studio in St. Louis where they relocated to from Chicago in 2008.
Brubeck's guitar tone, fueled by her Fender Telecaster into a Super Reverb, fills the in the mix competently not allowing the listener to care much if there's a bass guitar present to anchor the bottom end or not. Her voice is sultry and sexy with a '90s Stephen Malkmus nonchalance, yet hidden is a powerful voice that only reveals itself sparingly. The drums provided by Sult command their own space in the listener's ears with a heavy dose reverb like the recording took place in a huge room.
Opening track "Gimme A Chantz!" updates the '60s studio created pop sound with horns, layered backing vocals and percussion. The song benefits from a full mix that manages to stay sparse at the same time. It's easy to imagine Brubeck bouncing all over the studio working on her parts to complete the song. She provides a plinky piano base, guitar flourishes, vocals, backing vocals and more touches to this catchy pop gem.
Much like the collage that graces the album cover the music also pulls together elements from influential music from across the 20th century. "Speaking Politely" incorporates parts from the theme of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," "Ridin' With St. Louis" contains a part of the World's Fair classic "Meet Me In St. Louie, Louie" while "Seventeen" swipes lyrical lines from The Beatles "I Saw Her Standing There." Although noted in the liner notes, these homages do not distract the listener from the experience, yet drop something familiar to listeners to grab their attention. Personally, it's interesting to hear how the duo incorporates this well-known music into the overall landscape of sound.
In fact, "Seventeen" becomes a microcosm of their sound a hybrid of pop sensibility and indie rock artistic creativity. With lyrics informed by the Beatles, the music of this six-minute plus track is greatly influenced by the sound of The Velvet Underground - the band that defined the indie rock sound for countless future artists. A track sure to stretch out into a freak out jam of grand proportions in the live setting (see video below as evidence).
Overall, the album speaks to the strength of the St. Louis music scene and how far its come in recent years. Sleepy Kitty created a pop infused indie rock album that speaks to the music of the past and present with an artistic flair.
Sleepy Kitty - Infinity City (Euclid Records, 2011) track listing
1. Gimme A Chantz!
2. Speaking Politely
4. Way Out
5. NYC Really Has It All
6. Ridin' With St. Louis Tonight
7. Heavy Mother
8. School's Out
9. Chimera 10. Dykula
The album is available on physically CD and LP (translucent yellow) and digitally via iTunes. The LP contains a free download and adds an additional bonus track, an homage to their current neighborhood "Greetings from Cherokee St USA."
Sleepy Kitty - Lo-Fi St. Louis session
"Seventeen" Live at the RFT Music Awards
Sleepy Kitty Live at Euclid Records for Record Store Day 2011