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  The Sleepy Strange  
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It's cold for a March night in Atlanta, Ga -- maybe 40 degrees out, windy and cold, with this icy rain that chills. I really long for the spring Sunday mornings when I can open the windows and let some fresh warm air into the house. Usually, I will just sit and read the paper, occasionally sipping on a cup of coffee as sunshine spills onto the newsprint. And, inevitably, there will be some music playing.

When those days come this year, it's pretty much inevitable that one of the albums in my stereo will be Japancakes' The Sleepy Strange. There's a lighty, airy touch to this new album which evokes a lazy, dreamy state. Perhaps it's the way the songs begin from one central theme and then build into a crescendo which still floats around that original riff. Even as the lead is passed from the guitar to the cello and then on to the slide guitar and occasionally to the bass, the Japancakes drone in the best possible way, letting each instrument change its melody before regrouping on the familiar (this effect is really in evidence on the best songs, such as Soft N Ez). And their music doesn't miss vocals -- a voice would distract from the interplay of the musicians.

In case you're not familiar with Japancakes, they're a group from Athens, GA. The Sleepy Strange is their 3rd release. However, unlike their most recent EP, this album comes close to approximating their live sound. Still, I find that Japancakes are one of those bands that's hard to describe. Yes, they're entirely instrumental, but they don't sound like Tortoise or one of the big post-rock bands. And yes, this album was released on Kindercore, but they certainly don't have the vaguely twee feel of most of Kindercore's roster. And you can hear a slide guitar in the background, but aside from that touch, I can't hear any real twang in the sound.

Rather, I would say that Japancakes' sound really warm and organic, like the pot of Sumatra coffee I'll brew tomorrow morning. It's comforting, and not really challenging, but a joy to experience all the same.

Related Links:

Down The Elements EP by Japancakes
A review of a show from the time of this albums release.


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