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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Special Pillow
Sleeping Beauty

Rating: 5/10 ?

October 3, 2007
The Special Pillow share much in common with those artists managing to walk the fine line between jam-friendly neo-psychedelia and power pop. A primary example of this type of tightrope-walking act is Apollo Sunshine. However, unlike Apollo Sunshine, a band with a penchant for trading quirkiness for pop-laden hooks, The Special Pillow deliver songs that - juxtaposed with each other - are a little down home, a little sing-song-y, a little heavier, and, more often than not, a little even.

Dan Cuddy heads up the Hoboken quartet on Sleeping Beauty, and although The Special Pillow have been at it for over a decade, they don't stand out as anything more than what we might label competent: a local flavor, a band with a solid sound, a good name to know. "I Totally Love Your Smile" is stacked full with off-kilter vocals and nah nah nah's, two elements that are charming up to a point. "Goodnight Morning, Hello Moon" shows Cuddy utilizing that same approach and adding an element that once distinguished (Phish frontman) Trey Anastasio from his peers - a contemplative brand of innocence: "I've left the stratosphere behind/ I've found a brighter sphere inside my mind."

While a few of the songs tread on Billy Breathes territory - throwing in The Sleeping Pillow's signature '60's sound for good measure - only "The Heaviest Week (So Far)" explores that side of the band's jammy background. On that track, the jams even devolve into a Sonic Youthian noise-fest, which further distances The Special Pillow from that marker. "Fairport Airport" is a nice instrumental tune, but clocking in at only three minutes, it acts as little more than a late album interlude.

The band's cut "Your Dead City" is a propulsive punch of energy reminiscent of Thurston Moore's Dirty and Goo-era classics, also adding into the equation Sonic Youth's ubiquitous socially aware reproaches. During the bridge, Cuddy chides, "You can earn a living laying down/ You can nod into the underground/ You can keep a notebook when you sleep/ You could call your website 'Counting Sheep'/ You could earn a living with your hands/ You could have the greatest punk-rock band/ You could get a taste of beer for free/ You'll never rise above what you can't leave behind/ And there's a cold-stone throw that you will never find/ You are not too cool to be unkind."

"Your Dead City" is easily the strongest of Sleeping Beauty's eleven tracks, but that's in large part due to its ability to stand apart sonically from some mediocre songs. And whereas a band like Sonic Youth can get away with extra heavy riffs and lyrics that border on cliché, The Special Pillow come across as a little too sincere. In fact, out of all the elements that the band lacks, it is a shortage of self-aware play that leaves the album the most wanting. Sleeping Beauty's songs often vary in form, but they never quite break the mold, or for that matter, they never quite stand alone.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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