by Tony Patti
(Tony is a long-time customer of Euclid Records and one heck of a good writer; when we saw him post this review on his Facebook page, we asked if we could run it here on the blog.)
When I walked into the Pageant to see the Dresden Dolls last year there was a mighty rock noise going on stage that grabbed me obliquely and instantly; a loping groove full of confused sounds of varied and interesting kinds.
As I sought to orient myself in the crowd, some words came floating off the stage, sung by the blonde girl standing with a guitar behind some keyboards. "She was just seventeen..." and it made me smile. A Beatles reference, a nod to the pop of the last century, sung in a different tempo, a different tune. Before I even found myself a seat or a friend, I was caught up in Sleepy Kitty's deconstruction of a great pop song, startled and captivated by their seriously twisted rendition, and by all the noise they were making with just two people, especially since one of them was busy playing the drums.
They played a few more songs, all of them really good, and the vocals came across as on key and dynamic. When they finished their set I was a fan. I liked their facebook page and promised myself I'd go see them play again as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Anyone who knows me will guess that I never made it out to see them again; I hardly ever go out, since my home life is almost irresistibly heavenly, and my social set largely absent from the scene unless one of our own is playing. It's lonely to be out watching music by yourself, no matter how much you like it.
When I was busy making an ass of myself mistaking Jason Hutton for Jason MacEntire, which had the unintended effect of kind of booking myself into two different studios at the same time while thinking I was booking in one, I heard that Jason Hutto was recording a CD for Sleepy Kitty, which made me hopeful for something good. Meanwhile I was busy with my own recording. When the CD came out, I was traveling so heavily and working round the clock on multiple projects and couldn't get over to Euclid records to buy myself one. I finally got my chance the other day, and was excited enough to throw it in the CD player in my car on the way home
To simply state that it exceeded my expectations is the kind of restraint that is far from my style, but I tried to control myself anyway. After less than two minutes of the first song, "Gimme A Chantz!", I was trying desperately to calm myself down long enough to get the word masterpiece out of my head, but it kept coming back, and keeps coming back every time I've heard in the three or four days I've been listening to it. If someone wanted to design a pop song just for me, that has every element I most ardently desire in a pop song, this one comes very close. Long melody lines, pop beats, clever instrumentation, heart-stopping voice trilling thrilling harmonies, clever words (but not too clever, one of my bemoaned vices), and enough changes to amaze and delight me to a point approaching astonishment and deep delight. And in under 4 minutes.
Not every song on the disc is change music, my favorite kind of music, but nothing seems like random crap either. They put a lot into each song, some of them almost as sublime as "Gimme A Chantz!" Overall the effect is something like Bettie Serveert, but younger and hipper, and with a continuing joyous love of incorporating random and select pieces of musical culture at odd moments - "Meet me in St. Louie, Louie" in "Ridin' With St. Louis Tonight," a Gershwin quote from American In Paris in the wall of guitar ballsy "Speaking Politely," and a few other gems tucked here and there, with the hope that there are more too obscure for me to notice.
I'm hoping against hope that this CD, which has charmed me completely so incredibly quickly, becomes one of my favorite local releases ever, as it seems to be right now.
(For samples of Sleepy Kitty's music, and lots more info, check out our Euclid Records Records site.