The Sleepwalkers – Lost My Mind In Stereo (2014)

As a quick frame of reference, Wisconsin band the Sleepwalkers could be filed under that general, umbrella-like category called power pop. That’s a pretty big category, which describes a lot of artists and songs, all the way from supergroup Tinted Windows and their hit “Kind of a Girl,” to the faceless studio pros laying out “Sugar Sugar” in the name of the eternal teen carrot top and his pals co-starring in the Archies.

So here we have the Sleepwalkers’ latest release Lost My Mind In Stereo, a classic bass, guitars and drums lineup that plays mostly catchy and melodic rockers built out of straight-forward verses and sing-along choruses. Throw in a couple of slower ballads and some occasional orchestrations and there it is: a modern day power pop album that could have been released anytime in the last 20 or so years.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing: despite the name of the power pop genre itself, it’s a style of music that is rarely affected by whatever happens to be the current popular trend. Is there hip-hop power pop? Or country-and-western power pop, or even death metal power pop? Maybe, but probably not. So it’s totally appropriate that the Sleepwalkers’ press release name checks bands like the Replacements and Big Star. Sure — maybe add the Shazam in there, as well. Most of all, add in Velvet Crush and their Mitch Easter-produced masterpiece Teenage Symphonies to God from 1994.

Again, name-checking power pop groups isn’t to imply a lack of originality or talent on anyone’s part. Lead Sleepwalker Ian Olvera writes great tunes and the band plays them in such a way that to label this music “retro” would surely be a mistake. The key here is in the delivery: it’s not about squeezing the life out of an old and sometimes forgotten musical genre. Lost My Mind In Stereo (due April 8th, 2014 via IJGFM Records) feels like an album made by living, breathing people who know their strengths and play to them.

The opening song “My Best Was Never Good Enough” (not the Springsteen tune of the same name) and the one that follows, “It’s a Good Day to Watch the World Go By” work well together as the one-two combination that sets up the rest of the album. There are lots of highlights: the guitar tones of “Primetime Syndication,” the instant accessibility of “In and Out,” the harmony vocals of “Bottom of the Hill” and the ensuing wild coda that finishes the song.

Yes, there are plenty of highlights, but even more importantly, the individual songs hold together as a whole album as well. One can only hope the Sleepwalkers find themselves waking up in a studio and making another album sometime sooner rather than later.

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JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito spends most of his day keeping the wolves from the door. When he's not occupied with this pastime, he's interested in all things rock and roll -- which may or may not have died back in the late 1950s, the late 1970s, or the early '90s, depending on who you believe. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.