We're surrounded by color and light, we don't even know it.
Sleeping at Last, “Levels of Light”
Hailing from Wheaton, Illinois, Sleeping at Last first garnered national attention under the tutelage of Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. Corgan, a Chicago native, caught a set by the group at famed rock club The Metro and took them under his wing, teaching them to wiggle through the sometimes murky mainstream music industry. Through Corgan, the group eventually landed a deal with major label Interscope, who released 2003's Ghosts. “Say,” the record's lead single, topped Fuse's popular Oven Fresh countdown show; “Quicksand,” from 2006's self-released Keep No Score, was used in the season three premiere of Grey's Anatomy, and the band has toured extensively with groups as varied as Switchfoot, Yellowcard and Corgan's post-Pumpkins group Zwan.
But Sleeping at Last—whose tight, melodic sound echoes against the more experimental edges of modern alternative rock—taps influences more diverse than the band’s résumé may suggest; on Keep No Scores' “Umbrellas,” lead singer Ryan O'Neal channels Sigur Rós' Jónsi Birgisson as he whispers with weakened charm over chipping acoustic guitars and brushed drums courtesy of Dan Perdue and Ryan's brother Chad O'Neal. Corgan's influence is apparent in some of the growling guitar work and throat-tightening melodies, but Sleeping at Last rests more comfortably in the broody, atmospheric beds made by OK Computer-era Radiohead. Unlike that band, though, whose digital webs of paranoia tend to swallow hope whole, O'Neal crafts sky-reaching melodies girded by the swelling orchestration of his bandmates. Consider it the artier edge of alternative.
In an era when physical CDs and record company release dates have lost their relevancy, Sleeping at Last have chosen to release their new creative output quickly and directly to their fans. With the Yearbook project, the band has released a new 3-song EP on the first day of each month, beginning in October 2010 and ending in September of the following year. These new tracks are haunting and intimate, yet retain the atmospheric swells and soaring melodies that have been Sleeping at Last’s signature.
This particular show at the Ladies Literary Club will be a solo set by frontman and principle songwriter Ryan O’Neal. The sparse instrumentation of many of the songs on the Yearbook EPs is well-suited to this arrangement, as listeners will be able to hone in on O’Neal’s personal lyrics and intimate arrangements.
- Dan Hofman