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It's been way too long--dealing with contractors etc. will do that--so, to make it up to the three people still reading this blog, here's a triple dose of Sleepyhead, a trio that a lot more people should've heard. Chris O'Rourke, Rachael McNally and Michael Galinsky started Sleepyhead in 1990, and hit it out of the park with their first single, "Play" (MP3)--half la-la love-rock, half super-overdrive guitar gritstorm. The single came out in 1990 on Picture Book, with a neat blue-on-blue sleeve by Tae Won Yu of Kicking Giant. (They didn't always play "Play" live, but every year or so they'd pull it out as an encore, about 50% faster.) The B-side, "Too Much Fun," and another song they recorded at the same time, "Nir Nir" (which showed up on a cassette comp called Smell the Luv, I'm not making this up) featured the same eccentric rhythm as "Play"--Rachael once explained to me that that was the only beat she knew at the time.

She got a whole lot better in a hurry. The next Sleepyhead recordings were a murky but righteous single, "Fairyboat," and four long, twisty songs on a compilation called Chinny Chin Chin (curated by Mike McGonigal), which is probably best remembered as the first recorded appearance of one Liz Clark Phair. The B-side of "Fairyboat" was a cover of My Bloody Valentine's "Thorn"--Sleepyhead always played a cover or two live, and they were usually pretty inspired choices. (At various times, they also did CCR's "Fortunate Son," Minor Threat's "Salad Days," the Clean's "Thumbs Off" (which they recorded for the Cleaned Out! compilation on Dark Beloved Cloud) and--heard about this one, and really wish I'd seen it--the Bevis Frond's "That's Why You Need Us.") Here's a cover they played a lot: their version of Game Theory's "Like a Girl Jesus" (MP3), with Rachael taking a rare lead vocal.

By 1992, they'd become a completely kickass live band. I remember seeing them in early '92 at somebody's East Village loft with the thoroughly insane Dungbeetle, and thinking: yeah, this was what I moved to NYC for. (That "somebody," as I found out about a month ago, was James Murphy, now of LCD Soundsystem.) I got to see them play a whole lot of times over the next five years or so; if my memory serves me well, their songwriting went through a couple of stages that never got documented on record, as well as some that did. (They were also involved, if I remember correctly, with Six Layer Cake, a wedding/cover band that was basically them, Antietam, and a few other people.) Here's a later single I really like, "I Love You the Rain" (MP3), from I think 1994--it sounds much more straightforward than it is. (The recording doesn't quite do the song justice, but it was a highlight of their shows in those days.)

Michael Galinsky has gone on to make movies with Suki Hawley, including Half-Cocked and Horns and Halos. Chris and Rachael now live in Watertown, MA, with their son Finn. Thanks to Chris for permission to post these songs.

Unrelatedly: I'd been hoping to post the Suspicions' "The Laughing Policeman" here, but The Mystical Beast beat me to it. And if anyone wants to hear why I've been raving about that M.I.A./Diplo Piracy Funds Terrorism mix, the whole thing is downloadable here.

3 Comments

Paulo X said:

Thanks, Mr. Wolk!

Great tracks!

idlsprincess said:

Hey! I bet there are WAY more than three people who read... I look forward to checking their music out when I get home...

Eric Hoffsten said:

Nice going w/ the props to the late great Sleepyhead, Doug! Nice as well to see the long-gone mighty Dungbeetle get a mention. Though they didn't leave much of a recorded legacy, their live shows will be forever burned into that acid-fried section of my brain.

Dungbeetle vocalist Sam Lipsyte has now gone on to some reknown as a novelist, bassist Nick Butterworth went corporate early and ended up an MTV exec/internet quasi-guru, pretty-boy bassist Rob Reynolds does intellectual odd-jobs last I checked, and Mr. Drummer (whose name I'm blanking on) disappeared to kick his smack habit. I hope he succeeded.

Ah, those were the days...

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on January 12, 2005 1:56 AM.

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