SLEEPY SUN Fever (ATP)
Last years Embrace was an excellent stoner rock album, full of heavy riffs and long, droning tracks. Quite surprising then that the band have managed to get themselves together long enough to follow it up so quickly. Not only that but they have produced another collection of the some of the heaviest sounds around just witness the beginning to opening track Marina. A long drawn-out note gradually turns into a short solo and that then becomes a storming riff which just begs the rest of the band to join in, before Rachel Fannans surprisingly light, folky vocals take over. This just makes the riffs, when they come, sound even louder, and even a funky Latin American interlude cant detract from the sheer force of this opening salvo. Rigamaroo couldnt be more different, with its acoustic guitars and bongos over which Rachel and Bret Constantino duet sweetly. They cant keep it up though, as even though Wild Machines starts sedately, it isnt long before the huge riffs make an appearance, this time being used as the basis for some superb guitar freakouts. Ooh Boy is a solo Constantino offering just acoustic guitar, vocal and drums, and Acid Love uses swells of guitar feedback as the backing for this surprisingly effective song. Desert God eschews the massive riffs for some straight-ahead rock, and incorporates a harmonica solo over echo-laden drums that is straight off a Led Zep album. Open Eyes sees the return of the thundering guitars, but they are used sparingly, and the solo at the end seems to end before it has even begun. The a capella start to Freedom Line doesnt really prepare you for the funky bassline and scattergun drumming, and while it is nice to hear the band attempt something a bit different it doesnt really fit with the rest of the album, even when they weld on some beefy guitar chords at the end. Sandstorm Woman is where the band redeem themselves a ten minute epic, taken at a snails pace and full of atmosphere and power. Slower tracks quite often deliver the best guitar solos, and this is a case in point, with not one but two great opportunities to shine. It is a shame that the rest of the album isnt quite up to that standard, as while I admire the band for trying out different styles, I really just wanted an album filled to the brim with stonking great riffs like the last one was. Thats not to say that I wont play this again and enjoy it, but I cant help feeling that this album would have been so much better with a few more songs of the calibre of Sandstorm Woman on it. While I would hate for the band to stagnate, sometimes it can be better to tread water for a while rather than trying to progress to a point where you might start to lose the fans that you have picked up along the way.