Posts Tagged ‘Sleeper & Snake’

Sleeper & Snake

Upset the Rhythm brings another stellar Aussie duo to the forefront of 2020 with the release of Sleeper & Snake’s sophomore LP Fresco Shed. Comprised of Amy Hill (Terry, Primo!) and Al Montfort (Terry, Dick Diver, UV Race) the band gives post-punk a rinse in disjointed folk brambles and flanneled jazz touches. What the band does best is capture an unhurried view, almost ambling at times, but without coddling the record in niceties. While they jangle through the folk breeze of “Rokeby” the saw of fiddle and a muffled bleat of sax keep things from ever becoming comfortable. In similar fashion, the band never let their hooks swim too close to the surface. Every time they feel like they might get brisk and wistful, a curdled tone sets us straight. The record is most certainly not meant to fade into the background. Hill and Montfort create warped pop for those already peeking over the edge and it’s a lovely din that demands your attention.

Keys stumble with harpsichord pomp, horns hide in cotton enclaves, and jangles float by in a static haze. There’s something almost inherently cable-access about the album, as if we’re all party to an uninterrupted transmission from an alternate pop universe, framed in yellowed linoleum and second hand shag. The fluorescent flicker inside the Fresco Shed takes a bit of adjustment but soon it hits like a heartbeat pulse. The pair pick out a homespun, earnest batch of songs that refused to be corralled into any contemptible genre. Even when they start to get close to a breezy jangle on “Lock Up The Loose” an amble of harmonica leads us all astray. Any look over their collective resumes assures you that they have the chops to make things easy, but Sleeper & Snake aren’t interested in easy. Somewhere within the labyrinth of the Fresco Shed we’re all lost in the melted sun sway of the band’s subtle charms. Once your internal temperature is reset to their fevered heat ripple, it all starts to make sense.



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Sleeper & Snake

While Sleeper & Snake pairs up the great Al Montfort and Amy Hill, who’ve both found themselves in league as band mates in Terry, the album isn’t quite the pop pairing that it seems on the surface. The hint lies in the name – Sleeper & Snake. Last year Montfort released a record titled Snake & Friends which shied away from his strums, jangles, and geniality for a record that was steeped in offbeat electronics and free jazz fizz. This is, by many measures, an offshoot of that record and not quite a brand new beginning. Though the two hint at a duo dynamic throughout, crafting some bittersweet janglers like the first single “Sugar and Gold,” which recounts the sordid backstory of Queensland with a breezy beat and the pair’s time-tested askew harmonies.

Montfort peppers the album with plenty of his Snake-style freeform dropout fare, buzzing against the cloudy charms of the opener and fellow janglers “Wisdom Vermin” and “The Lucknow Sound.” At times they threaten to overwhelm the album, but there’s more here than just sound collage sandwiched between a couple of singles. The pair push the pop envelope on the triptych on side one, “Junction and High” (pts 1, 2, & 3). They ease in strumming, but less palatable than they’d offered on the opener – a moth-eaten pop song that’s only letting the chaos consume it as it works its way through the second and third movements. In this portion of the album they show the heavy influence of Elephant Sixers like Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System – holding a similar glee in letting their gold peek through the din for those willing to walk the maze.

For a debut it holds a lot of promise, though I know that both artists have so much on their plate this may be a one off, which would be too bad. Its got a lot of promise as a premise, though I’d think they should embrace that E6 mafia mentality full bore. If you whittle down the noisemakers under the 1:30 mark and stretch it out with a few more high concept pop like “Jangle and High” this could work its way towards jangle-psych bliss. Still, its by no means a miss for two Aussie pop smiths at the top of their game. Though for many their hand will be seeking the skip button or nabbing the needle, this is an ambitious swing with a lot to love.



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