In the six years since Sleepy Sun released the White Dove 7”, the Northern California band sometimes seemed to live the lives of a hundred bands. They toured incessantly, shed old skin, tore down walls with riffs, and explored black smoke, barrel-dark songs, and studio sheen—all with a core that has survived since the band crawled from the dusty sage-scented Santa Cruz underbrush.
It’s that core, and the experiential sum of those hundred lives, that shape the band’s fourth release Maui Tears, due for a world release through the Toronto-based independent label, Dine Alone Records. In the sounds of Maui Tears, you hear echoes of nights shared with fellows and allies like Arctic Monkeys and Black Angels…a band growing self-assured as studio presence…the elasticity and tensions of a creative brotherhood. And like every Sleepy Sun record, it deftly walks the borders and boundaries between hooky power pop classicism and hazy, primer-grey Camaro rock—all colored by a lurking sense of fog, unease, and mystery at the corners. There has always been a sort of effortlessness in what Sleepy Sun does—derived, probably, from decades-old friendships within the band and months stuffed in vans traversing and criss-crossing continents. It’s heard readily in the songs of Maui Tears as well as the band’s now-well-cultivated roles as instrumentalists.
The dovetailed fuzz riffage of guitarists Matt Holliman and Evan Reiss is reconstituted from equal parts primordial stoner ooze and blue crystal shards. Lead vocalist Bret Constantino—blessed with the pipes to holler from the hills—belts lines that alternately bristle with attitude and melt with drowsy ease. The rhythm section of Brian Tice and Jack Allen is a seamless collision of fluid science, heavy lifting, and the laconic—spun into a skyscraper-scaled monster gait. For long-time friends of the band, Maui Tears will be an audible evolution. The culmination of voyage that has now logged miles nearing infinity and made echoes enough to fill canyons. For newcomers, however—and listeners weary of heavy rock’s monochrome halls and guitar pop’s ever-thinner candy veneers—Maui Tears and indeed Sleepy Sun itself, is the warm cabin where the better spirits of both worlds bed down, share ghost stories, and watch the fire flicker off into dreams.