It seems that nowadays a fair proportion of albums that arrive for review are Canadian in origin. Canadiana anyone? To be sure many of the touchstones in the alt country/Americana scene were Canadians, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Band, to name a few. More recently Blue Rodeo and Blacky and the Rodeo Kings would be the names most likely to pop up in conversation.
Well, here’s another band to talk about instead of the Mounties and Northern Exposure. Sleepy Driver are a band with a sound that is in the same vein as some of the eighties so called Paisley Underground crew. In particular there are moments that are very akin to the great Steve Wynn both in his Dream Syndicate days and more latterly from his “desert trilogy”.
With a big guitar sound, great dynamics and at times a great pop thrust, leader Peter Hicks hits on the darker side of life including a great murder ballad (Drowning In My Dreams). While able to utilise an acoustic base in songs such as “Where You Are” and “North Dakota” (where some pedal steel leavens the sound) it’s the surge of guitar and organ on “When the Lights Come On” and the chunky slice of a song that is “Architects” that standout. Opening song “Like a Weapon” should be a radio hit at least if there’s any justice. Best of all is “Watch You Sleep” which has a fantastic, trippy guitar outro which is reminiscent of the Rain Parade.
For a debut album this is very assured and very, very listenable. Have a peek here