Casket Salesmen - Sleeping Giants (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Casket Salesmen

Sleeping Giants (2006)

Longhair Illuminati

A Static Lullaby's major label debut, Faso Latido, was a major struggle. On one side were Nathan Lindeman and Phil Pirrone, aiming to incorporate a wider breadth of influences including progressive/classic rock, psychedelia, and other genres that more accurately reflected their listening tastes. On the other side were Joe Brown (vocalist) and Dan Arnold (and whomever were additional opponents), intent on continuing the able-bodied nü-screamo path forged with their debut, 2003's ...And Don't Forget to Breathe. What resulted was an awful mess -- an unfocused, lost, and ultimately boring album that tanked and created a large split between the band. If the differences weren't clear enough, Lindeman and Pirrone soon formed Casket Salesmen in order to fully convey those aforementioned influences, and A Static Lullaby recently delivered a "return to the roots" styled followup in a self-titled rebirth on Fearless Records.

What makes things a little apprehensive going into Sleeping Giants is the thought the duo may extend beyond their (or Pirrone's, at least) once drug-addled reach and produce the same texture of sloppiness in trying to perfectly capture the spirit of rock history. No worries, though: Sleeping Giants effectively displays a strong focus on writing straight-forward rock hooks inserted into fairly trippy yet plenty textured, warm atmospheres. Think if Steve Brodsky had formed (Antenna-era) Cave In in 1979, chewing off all of Casket Salesmen's main influences (Floyd, Beatles) and you're sort of on the path to what's at hand here, with plenty of hints and references to the more respected crop of early-to-mid-`90s alternative rock.

Early standouts like "I'll Buy That for a Dollar" and "Dr. Jesus" are admirable displays of Pirrone's pleasing, comforting vocal range. "Dollar" explodes with a huge, upbeat chorus, the happy mood of which is unusual for the album. "Jesus" finds Pirrone wide-eyed and rolling through the scale on its delivered chorus; it definitely sounds like the band had the first verse of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" spinning on repeat while writing it.

There's some obvious musical similarities to those unusual moments from Faso, but it's stunning how much better they come off when in the right context. It allows the Salesmen more expansive territory, able to capture its climactic moments in unique methods (the wailing horn of "The Anaheimlich Manuever"). The seven-minute "Art Sandwich" dances around its mild wankery with classy keyboard inclusion and sporadic, wandering melodies.

Casket Salesmen has apparently been a self-fulfilling project, one to please its band members more than fans; if that's musical masturbation, I guess that renders most any who may stumble across Sleeping Giants quite the voyeur.

I'll Buy That for a Dollar
Dr. Jesus

The Anaheimlich Manuever
Peace Monger
Art Sandwich
Feeling Ten Feet Tall Part Two

VIDEO (Quicktime)
I'll Buy That for a Dollar