Sounds like … epic and ethereal alternative rock a la Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, Sigur Ros, and even the experimental era of Brian Wilson
At a glance … their most ambitious, introspective and entertaining album, thanks to a little help from Van Dyke Parks and a slew of indie heavy-hitters
Sleeping At Last is one of alternative rock's best-kept secrets, but more are bound to learn about them through the magnetic appeal of this project. Not only does the band—which has toured with Switchfoot, Something Corporate, and Zwan—turn in a top-notch album filled with surging dynamics and contemplative ballads, but the songwriting is amongst its most insightful and compelling to date.
The gorgeous "Porcelain" kicks off the record with Ryan O'Neal's yearning vocals, bathed in a calming ukulele and stunningly arranged string section that could appeal to fans of Radiohead or Sigur Ros and the Beach Boys' more experimental side. Speaking of that latter act, Van Dyke Parks—who frequently collaborated with the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson—produces/arranges "Clockwork," easily the group's most innovative to date, loaded with cinematic charm and orchestral grandeur.
Topically, the tone rotates between overcoming personal roadblocks, to thanking God for painting such a vast creative canvas, to marveling at nature's many wonders. Add an all-star supporting cast like mixer John Goodmanson (Death Cab for Cutie), engineer Greg Norman (Guided By Voices), multi-instrumentalist Ryan Francesconi (Joanna Newsom), plus woodwinds player Paul Von Mertens (Wilco, Paul McCartney), and Sleeping At Last is on the verge of something extraordinary.
Others worth noting:
Zach EllsworthNotes on Becoming
Style: pop/country/rock; Collin Raye, Mac Powell, Eagles
In a nutshell: Chunky guitars with a southern tint to his voice puts this singer/songwriter right on the border of straight-up pop and inspirational country. Though some tunes sound a little too similar to one another, there's depth to his vertically-centered lyricism.
Sara RennerAll for Love
Style: jazz/pop/soul; CeCe Winans, Anita Baker, India.Arie, Corinne Bailey Rae
In a nutshell: A charming balance of contemporary and vintage jazz/pop wrapped around soulful vocals and a series of biblically-centered, life-affirming reflections.
Style: contemporary worship; Jeff Deyo, Jason Morant, Lincoln Brewster
In a nutshell: After finding a few minutes of fame on season four of American Idol, this worship leader kicked his ministry into overdrive. A case in point comes on this reflective, personable and well-versed praise EP, though he—and listeners—would've benefited even more by fleshing it out to a full-length.
To be considered for "Indie Spotlight," send a CD and press kit to:
Christian Music Today's "Indie Spotlight" C/O
465 Gunderson Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188
Copyright © 2009 Andree Farias subject to licensing agreement with Christian Music Today. Click for reprint information.