Cincinnati's Phratry Records has a reputation for teaming up with artists who embrace the seedier side of music. Many of the bands on their label [Ampline, Mala in Se, Knife the Symphony, Smoke Signals..., Swear Jar, etc.] engage in highly-aggressive, effects-and-noise driven music that some critics pigeonhole as 'post-punk.'
Listeners unfamiliar with the band State Song will probably be surprised to find that this band shares the same label. However, even those who are familiar with State Song will be floored when they get their first taste of Sleepcrawling.
Sleepcrawling is State Song's second album and is a lovely and more mature departure from their 2010 album Dear Hearts & Gentle People. The album has a gorgeous, melodic sensibility rife with ethereal and soulful insight.
With Sleepcrawling, State Song has managed to revitalize the concept album. All 8 tracks flow into and out of each other so organically that you find yourself not simply listening, but swimming in the total experience of sonic exploration.
Lead singer Scot Torres drives the majority of the songs on Sleepcrawling by marrying his magical keyboard work with his touching poetry and his resonant, haunting voice. His piano playing on such tracks as "Barstools and Bedrooms" and "How Long is Over" is nothing short of brilliant in a smoky singer-songwriter kind of way. By saying that, I in no way mean to imply that the tracks are simplistic, lighthearted or lacking depth. Quite the opposite. Torres' vocals contain so much depth and transmit so much emotion, I am reminded of Rufus Wainwright's Poses - an album in my personal all-time Top 20 list.
In songs like "Be Aggressive," Torres exchanges the piano for a guitar. This allows the partnership with Steve Wethington [bass] and Chris Pennington [drums] to carry more of the musical weight which, in turn, gives Torres more room to belt out lyrics that will rip your heart from your chest.
If Wethington and Pennington's performances on Sleepcrawling appear understated, it is only because they are so flawless and compliment Torres so well that they could only be made more noticeable by their absence.
The album finishes with "Repeated," a song that is deceptively complex. There are so many layers to the music, the lyrics, the engineering -- everything -- that the song commands that you visit it over and over again.
Given the depth of songwriting, lyricism and performance that State Song brings to Sleepcrawling, it would all be wasted were it not for the excellent production. The album was recorded and mixed by Steve Wethington along with Derek Kinder at New Fidelity Productions and mastered by Dave Davis of The All Night Party.
Sleepcrawling is not an album you simply listen to. It is an album that you immerse yourself in. You will wrap it around your soul, succumb to it and fall in love with it.
Look for Sleepcrawling by State Song to come out April 22 on Phratry Records. They will also be celebrating with an album release party on April 26 at Northside Tavern with Mallory. More information about State Song can be found at Bandcamp, Reverbnation.com and Facebook.