Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold (Stream, Live Video)
by Steven Spoerl
Now that we’re nearing the final quarter of the year, the already-stacked release schedules are starting to get even more dense as a lot of bands and labels make power play bids for album of the year consideration. One of the titles slated for that wave of new material is Saintseneca‘s just-announced Such Things, an announcement which came with an accompanying single: “Sleeper Hold”. Before getting around to that song, though, it’s worth taking a step back to cover a handful of other notable releases that are well worth your attention.
For single streams, there was Dogs On Acid‘s shape-shifting “Ideal Decanter“, Atlantic Thrills’ surf-indebted (and retro-leaning) basement pop highlight “Bed Bugs“, Connie Constance’s glitchy, slow-burning “Euphoric“, Orchid Mantis’ tantalizing “It Was Gone“, and Century Thief’s slowly unfurling “Pillar“. Additionally, there were outstanding new songs from the likes of Swings, Funeral Advantage, Promised Land Sound, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and Sea Lion. Full streams, while not even close to matching the numbers of the single streams, unearthed one of the year’s best albums in Pleasure Leftists‘ The Woods of Heaven and another beautiful full-length in Totally Mild’s Down Time. Sleepy’s extraordinary self-titled EP (another potential year-end contender) rounded the category out with style. Two music videos- Ali Barter’s “Hypercolour” and Valley Maker’s “Only Friend“- made sure that the visual format was very well represented.
Back to the feature: Saintseneca’s latest, “Sleeper Hold”, an even punchier take on the band’s Appalachian folk than anything found on their last record, the exemplary Dark Arc. Having just seen the band take apart Baby’s All Right a little over a week ago, the new material that was played live has been resonating for a short while. “Sleeper Hold”, the lead-off single to the band’s forthcoming Such Things, capitalizes on that resonance by virtue of strength and polish. Immediately employing the under-utilized and extremely effective dynamic of a back-and-forth vocal lead between the band’s two primary voices (those of Zac Little and Maryn Jones), “Sleeper Hold” strikes a refreshingly bold look for the band.
All of the hallmarks that made their previous work so compelling are still firmly in tact, from the smart compositions to Little’s twisted, hyper-literary wordplay. Some of the surprising amount of weight to be found on “Sleeper Hold” is due to the conceptual design of Such Things, which largely grapples with the purposefulness of existence. “Sleeper Hold”, in particular, is about the designs of perception and consciousness. For such heavy material, the music itself is impossibly light, buoyant, and deceptively carefree. Every element of “Sleeper Hold” works incredibly well and reaffirms Saintseneca’s status as one of today’s finest acts. Propulsive, smart, and irresistible, “Sleeper Hold” is the perfectly crafted warning shot of what promises to be one of this year’s finest albums.