Sleepy Sun

If there’s one thing we can all agree on in these dark, deeply uncertain days, it’s humanity’s latent desire to unplug from it all—to put our smartphones down, survey our immediate surroundings, and let the sweeter things in life rise to the surface.
Sleepy Sun get it. Now five albums and more than a decade into making their own elusive brand of bold rock music, the Bay Area band isn’t interested in flooding our synapses with far too many ideas on their new LP, Private Tales. They’d rather let a grander vision unfold over time, rewarding anyone with the willingness to wait it out, to actually listen.
“When I hear Private Tales,” says guitarist Evan Reiss, “I appreciate the spaciousness that is left for the listener. I like music that gives them an opportunity to breathe, as opposed to jamming ideas into someone’s ears at all times.”
That approach is clear from the very beginning, a sustained drone casting a spell of clean synth tones, monk-like melodies, muted flutes, and riffs that ring out in the distance. It’s as if Sleepy Sun’s core quartet (Reiss, fellow guitarist Matt Holliman, frontman Bret Constantino, and drummer Brian Tice) decided to apply the album’s brakes before they even got out of the driveway.
If only things were that simple. The glassy psych grooves of “Prodigal Vampire” eventually give way to the life aquatic licks of “Seaquest,” a song that actually sounds like it’s sailing straight towards the sun. Meanwhile, “When the Morning Comes” and “Crave” take the group down an entirely different path—one that’s lined with thorny hooks and chaotic thunderclaps, as influenced by Swans as it is by Thin Lizzy.
Confused yet? Good.
“I always, always loved how no one knew what to make of us,” says Tice.
“That means we’re doing our job!” adds Reiss.
Or as Constantino puts it, “Creating original work is the most difficult part of writing anything. Often during the process, you think, ‘Oh man, that sounds like The Stones,’ or ‘that lyric is way too literal or cliche’. I’ve found the less you pay attention to that critical voice and concentrate on what you’re hearing in your head, you end up subconsciously reinterpreting everything you’ve ever heard or seen.”
It helps to have a strong supporting cast, of course, including bassists Jack Allen and Owen Kelley, who held the low end down on this LP. The boys were also backed by two incredible singers throughout the album’s two recording sessions: the New Pornographers’ Kathryn Calder and Whitehorn Singers’ Hannah Moriah. Colin Stewart also reprised the producer/engineering role he played on Sleepy Sun’s breakthrough records, Embrace and Fever.
“Colin is our main man,” says Reiss. “He ate more than 20 burritos while we were recording Private Tales, and believed in us throughout this two-year process. I cannot thank him enough.”
“I am certain this record could not have been made without his support and sacrifices,” adds Constantino. “There were times where he was the only person who believed we had it in us. He has a wonderful ability to bring out the honest truth in the musicians he works with. There’s no one I’d rather record with.”
Well, no one except the rest of Sleepy Sun, a tightknit crew that kept its creative process going despite Constantino’s decision to move to Texas during the making of Private Tales. (The band exchanged home recordings over email and fleshed songs out in the studio over the course of two trying years.)
“This is the longest relationship I’ve had outside of my family,” says Constantino. “We’ve grown an incredible amount individually over the last 10 years, as has the ‘Sleepy Sun sound’. This record, in particular, was the most difficult to make, by far, mainly for logistical reasons.”
“Playing music with this group is second nature to me,” adds Reiss. “Being in a band for more than a decade allows for an almost telepathic creative relationship. The hard part is finding the time to ‘get in and let go’.”
Mission = accomplished.

Crook & The Bluff

Awe-inspiring landscapes, towering, monolithic formations, a powerful, indomitable spirit, an unpredictable and mysterious character. All of these elements, characteristics of the American West, are ever-present in the music of Crook and the Bluff. A blend of blues, western, rock, and psychedelica combined into a soundscape that evokes images of a dark western film, complete with heroes and villains, love and loss. Known for their dynamic performances and commanding aura, Crook and the Bluff's unholy joining of western pyschedelia and dirty, desert blues, influenced by the vast and beguiling wilderness of their desert home, can only be fully experienced live.

Crook and the Bluff, formed in 2013, explores numerous themes in their music, equipped with an arsenal of songs depicting lust, love, malevolence, curiosity, and desire. Storytellers at heart, Crook and the Bluff provides listeners with a spectrum of sounds, including dark, western ballads about love and revenge, groovy dance numbers that force audiences to move, and droning, hypnotic pieces about the efficacy of licking toads. Equal parts musicians and mad-scientists, the band surrounds themselves with an array of amplifiers, instruments, and electronic effects to create new and fascinating sounds, with the purpose of captivating listeners until the last note. This armory of equipment, and the mesmerizing sounds created by it, has led many fans to describe the band as “the Pink Floyd of the American West”.

Featuring a standard rock formation, with two guitars, bass, and drums, Crook and the Bluff creates music that is anything but standard. At the forefront is the booming baritone and piercing falsetto of lead singer Kirk Dath. Principle songwriter, and founding member, Dath is the voice that guides listeners through melancholic love stories, or ushers them across the river Styx with whispers of absolution. Using carefully-honed lead guitar, Ryan Arnold provides depth and drama to the music, employing both ferocious, bone-cutting solos and rich, nuanced tapestries of sound. With the intensity and focus of a surgeon, Kevin Schultz controls the low-end with lyrical bass lines and heavy doses of fuzz, while Darren Farnsworth, the well-oiled engine of the group, provides both propulsion and momentum on the drums.

Crook and the Bluff is a band more at home on the road, driven by a desire for travel, adventure, and discovering the undiscovered. Seasoned performers in the local scene of their hometown of Salt Lake City, Crook and the Bluff consistently travels throughout all of Utah, as well as the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and California. As frequent headliners at festivals, including Craft Lake City, Escalante Music Festival, Utah Arts Festival, and MGME, and openers for national acts, including Wovenhand, Murder By Death, and Jamestown Revival, Crook and the Bluff always delivers their music with passion, intensity, and precision that leaves audiences in awe, and aching for more.

Sarah DeGraw & the Odd Jobs



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