You don’t need to hear Sleepy Sun’s debut album—or the high praise being heaped upon it—to get the sense this is a band worth investigating. In addition to inhabiting a San Francisco scene that has birthed generations of guiding psychedelic rock, from the Dead and Quicksilver in the early years to Om and Wooden Shjips today, the six-piece calls ATP, sometime home to great weird-rock outfits like Deerhoof, Bardo Pond and Jackie-O Motherfucker, its label.
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A spin through Embrace confirms those credentials. While maintaining a heavy-psych vibe throughout, the eight-song disc shifts from Sabbathian hard rock to moments of graceful beauty, sometimes within the same song. At its core: the American blues tradition, worked out in ways that recall Led Zeppelin and The White Stripes; yet, at times, Sleepy Sun veers farther out, toward the sort of trippy territory occupied by Pink Floyd or, occasionally, Comets on Fire, a group from nearby Santa Cruz, Sleepy Sun’s original NoCal gathering point.
With the possible exception of slightly cutesy closing cut “Duet With the Northern Sky,” which pairs vocals from frontman Bret Constantino and sometime singer Rachel Williams, every track is a potential playlist-builder, from riff-rrific opener “New Age” to headbanger “Sleepy Son” to nine-minute showstopper “White Dove.” The key keeper: the haunting “Lord,” an elegantly spiritual number that could have you thanking your deity of choice for creating Sleepy Sun.