Former members of Finnish indie pop and alternative rock bands/projects of the 1990s and 2000s like Chickenpotpie, The Pansies, Montevideo and Mia Darling formed Treemer in 2019 when one of the former Chickenpotpie cohorts revealed he had a backlog of twenty some songs he needed help in bringing to fruition. The latest batch of songs from the band is the Septembre EP which released on the final day of September 2022. All six songs should appeal to any connoisseur of the kind of dream and indie pop that one might have heard out of the Sarah Records or early Slumberland catalog. But the final track “Septembre Bloom” perhaps launches most fully into the realm of a shoegaze song and sprawling out to seven minutes fifteen seconds of an expansive, joyful melody and winsome vocals. There is a touch of Americana tonality in the guitar work but that just lends the song a quality of nostalgic warmth. Think like an improbable collaboration between Mojave 3 and Cocteau Twins especially in the sections where the vocals seem to be on the verge of layering. It’s a song that seems to be one from a perspective of looking back on an old romance that was passionate and may be over or may have evolved as all relationships worth having do. But the sheer exuberance of the song suggests that even with some of the bittersweet sentiments, the memories are fond and affectionate even in this moment. Listen to “Septembre Bloom” on Spotify where you can listen to the rest of the EP and follow Treemer on Instagram.
Sleepyhead is a rock band that formed in New York City in 1989 at a time when the underground rock of the 1980s in the USA and the UK flowed into what became alternative music by the 90s. But for a brief period Sleepyhead began in the golden age of the indiepop that that one heard in the music of the C86 bands and on Sarah Records. One might have heard echos of the Paisley Underground in the music and of criminally underrated groups like Game Theory and Let’s Active. But Sleepyhead had firmly established its own vibrant musical identity by the time of its 1993 debut album Punk Rock City USA on the even now respected forward thinking pop imprint Slumberland, home to the likes of Black Tambourine, Peel Dream Magazine, Weekend, Papercuts and The Reds, Pinks and Purples. Musical history may remember Sleepyhead in the same company as Chicago’s Material Issue whose own legacy of great pop songwriting and great energy and intelligence and warmth informing the songwriting was critically acclaimed at the time but largely neglected since. With a bit of an extended hiatus following the 1996 album Communist Love Song, Sleepyhead returned with 2014’s Wild Sometimes and a strong reminder of how Sleepyhead’s sharply observed lyrics and creative songwriting concepts remained intact. In 2022 the group, a trio of Rachael McNally, Chris O’Rourke and Derek Van Beever, released New Alchemy, named for the New Alchemy Institute, a research center that did work in organic agriculture, aquaculture and bioshelter design and operated between 1969 and 1991. It was the sort of very pragmatic, sustainability research steeped in the ideas of thinkers like R. Buckminster Fuller that the world could honestly use more of in the face of the multitude of challenges we face with the climate and adapting economic thinking toward something more rational and nurturing not just of the planet but of our own civilization and individual lives. The music is graced with that great shiny jangle guitar work and exquisite vocal harmonies that have made Sleepyhead’s music standout from the beginning and with it a freshness and exuberance that hits the ear as something wholesome and nurturing yet subversive in weaving in heady ideas and focusing on songcraft over adhering to a trendy style. Every song makes great use of space while also brimming with a fortifying denseness of detail and musical ideas. Classic Sleepyhead and a welcome entry in the catalog of one of the great bands of the alternative era.
We had a chance to speak with the band and you can listen to that interview on Bandcamp and to connect with Sleepyhead visit its website where you can find links to listen to their music including New Alchemy. Before the interview you can check out the music video for the single “Pam and Eddie” on YouTube.