By Emma Page
Alternative/indie rock band Sandman Sleeps’ debut album, Crisis Actor, released on March 26, is reminiscent of all the good elements of the ’90s rock icons that we know and love – inspired by the Pixies, Kate Bush, Talking Heads, and Tori Amos, “yet not sounding like any of these – or really anyone else.”
The band was originally formed by sisters Cristina and bassist Alex Peck in their teens, and after a brief parting of ways, they reconvened in 2019 with the exciting addition of drummer Karsten Andersen and guitarist Zack Jones in early 2020.
Sandman Sleeps released their mesmerizing first single from the album, “Portrait of Jennie,” on January 21. Cristina wrote it in June 2020 “amidst the ‘oddly liberating claustrophobia’ of being co-quarantined on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway with her then-partner, a time in which she says she was ‘physically trapped yet increasingly spiritually free,'” according to their press release.
In quarantine, she watched the 1948 classic film of the same name, and incorporated its fantastical plot of “star-crossed lovers intertwined by time travel that brings them together but ultimately splits them apart,” into the song’s creation.
The tempo began slow due to Cristina’s low energy levels while battling COVID, but Alex was able to write “a ‘dynamic and rooting’ bass part, which added an ‘intensity’ to the song, and the sound became even more visceral while playing it with the full band.” The song transports the listener between worlds of dreamy rock melody and lyrics, “swinging back and forth from reality to dreamworld/other dimension.”
The album begins with “Soaked,” which channels the charming grittiness of Kate Bush-esque vocals and establishes the band’s ability to employ strong guitar riffs and percussion. The next track, “Feet,” carries an uplifting, familiar sound. Playful “hey”s say hi to us in the background, and lyrics like “This is not my body,” can make us feel existential.
Throughout the album, some song titles mirror the way they make us feel – “Opaque” is dreamy and reminiscent of the darkness of cruel love, and “Spiral” reflects a spiral in the way it plays with tempo and rhythm, slowing down in the middle of the track before picking back up again.
There is something in this album for every lover of alternative rock – from catchy guitar riffs in “Fellini,” which was released as another single in February, playful vocals in “Induced,” to strong drums that assist the upbeat feel in “Five Bell Alarm” and “Summer Rain.” “Rare Cloud” ends the album strong as a conclusive track that is firm in its unique delivery.
The band has announced that it is hosting an album release party at the live music venue Propaganda in Lake Worth, FL, on the night of its release – March 26! You don’t want to miss this debut album from a band that is going to be big.
Listen to “Portrait of Jennie” below, and follow our Alchemical Multigenre Mixdown Spotify playlist for more great music featured on the site.
Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.
Zaii Valdes of Violet Silhouette discusses new album and proud roots in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The sound of Violet Silhouette is unlike anything else you’re likely to hear. Their music blends rock and electronic with dance—with a great deal of mystery tossed in for good measure. But however it’s classified, their sound is rather unique.
Singer/guitarist/drummer Zaii Valdes is joined in the group by Dan Potvin and Justin Gianoutsos. The group’s latest EP, “FEVERBLUE,” drops October 20. In anticipation of the latest release, Valdes spoke with Alchemical Records about the new record and, in honor of his Cuban extraction, Hispanic Heritage Month—which kicks off September 15.
How did you first get involved in music?
Being of Cuban heritage, music and dance were very much a part of [my] cultural and familial experience. Not to mention, there was a spiritual aspect to it—trance states and such that could be achieved from rhythm and beat.
More to Watch Matthew Lowry’s “Flamingo County” was released on Sep. 15, 2023. Matthew Lowry “Flamingo County” album art Lowry’s project is filled with a