Sleepy Sun – Clwb Ifor Bach: Cardiff

How apt that Sleepy Sun play here in Cardiff today when the earth’s sun truly has gone to sleep. Rain is sheeting down, mocking the July crowds who have gathered in Cardiff to see the Ashes but the Music Fix doesn’t let meteorological phenomenon deter it from seeking out rock n roll. Hell no, we even arrive in time for support band The Keys who thoroughly entertain with their very British, unpolished blend of Yardbirds blues and Loop psychedelic grunge. I expect we’ll hear more from them in the future, hopefully they’ll spruce up their image a little by then as the guitarist looks like he’s here to fix the drains rather than to alter our minds.

Sleepy Sun are on another planet completely, they may be relatively new kids on the block but these Californians are the finished article. The last time I saw a band of comparable style and stature in a club like this was Janes Addiction in Bristol Bierkeller in 1990. The Janes comparison applies equally to the music which is a super slick sonic smorgasbord of Zeppelin, The Doors and maybe a hint of Jefferson Airplane. The songs are all somewhat epic and steadfastly refuse to use an obvious hook when an everlasting howling guitar riff will suffice, allowing vocalist Bret Constantino the time and space to practice throwing a few shapes which have come to him via Jagger and Bobby Gillespie but, like the music, never appear derivative in his hands.

It isn’t all leather trousers and testosterone however as the quasi-medieval, vocal talents of the diminutive Rachel Williams add another layer of subtle broken blues beauty to the beguiling Sleepy Sun experience. It is quite disarming to find such a mesmerizing band playing in this compact venue; it works, no question about that, but one gets the feeling that they could quite easily take this set and perform it to 100,000 at Woodstock without turning a hair. Like Fleet Foxes with some bollocks this band is going places and I’d take the opportunity to catch them in these tiny venues while you have the chance. The next place I saw Janes Addiction after their Bristol show was headlining at Brixton Academy and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sleepy Sun on the same trajectory.

Steven Burnett

Updated: Jul 12, 2009

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