"It's got a fuzzed-out doo-wop feeling, and all the songs are about girls!" says Sleeping in the Aviary's Elliott Kozel. "It's like Dion and the Belmonts with a hangover trying to figure out how to use a Big Muff pedal, or the Everly Brothers beating up some kid in the bathroom of a high-school gymnasium and then feeling bad about it later." He's describing the band's fourth full-length album, You and Me, Ghost, released by Science of Sound Records on September 6, 2011. In the ever-expanding musical universe that is Sleeping in the Aviary, asking what they're up to now will often reward the questioner with an unexpected response and be accompanied by some great music, genre boundaries be damned.
Originating as a trio based in Madison, Wis., Sleeping in the Aviary has evolved into a Minneapolis, Minn., quintet including Kozel (vocals, guitar), Phil Mahlstadt (bass), Michael Sienkowski (drums, backing vocals), Celeste Heule (accordion, keyboards, musical saw), and Kyle Sobczak (guitar). All the members have roots in southeastern Wisconsin, and have been playing music for a decade and more in a near-countless number of bands and one-off projects. Those varied experiences and experiments have resulted in the bouillabaisse of sounds offered in their discography from the power chord-fueled pop-punk of Oh, This Old Thing? (2007), to the mostly acoustic indie-folk of Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel (2008), to the soul-influenced pop of Great Vacation (2010). For You and Me, Ghost the band's sound takes on the influence of an earlier era but still sounds undeniably like Sleeping in the Aviary.
"The 'golden oldies' from the '50s and '60s had a major conceptual influence on this particular album," says Kozel. "The simple romantic themes and short and straightforward song structures were elements we attempted to steal from it." And it wasn't difficult to focus on themes that dwell on affairs of the heart since the songwriting followed the end of a long-term relationship for Kozel, who says, "It's the old tried and true 'break-up album.'"
You and Me, Ghost was recorded in Science of Sound's studio over five days on a short break during several months of touring in the first half of 2011. For the most part, reversing the very layered and complex production style used for Great Vacation, here the band keeps the arrangements simple, limits superfluous or textural tracks and keeps the reverb to a minimum. Kozel and Sobczak produced the record (with assistance from all), aided by the engineering skills of Ricky Riemer.
Sleeping in the Aviary has shared stages with Califone, Ra Ra Riot, The Thermals, The Von Bondies, Elf Power and many others; they will be heading back out on the road in September with their newest release. In the meantime, they'll be releasing new tracks and video teasers for the new album.
"Alternately somber, poignant, lively or even a bit waltzy, 'Expensive Vomit in A Cheap Hotel' will leave you neither nauseous nor drowsy." - CMJ New Music Report 10/20/08
"...engaging, dank and irreverent energy..." - Alternative Press
"...Sleeping in the Aviary possesses the same snotty charm as the aforementioned Femmes (circa their early era), especially in the vocal stylings of singer/guitarist Elliott Kozel, which can be heard clearly on the album opening 'Write On.' Elsewhere, you'll also find a Pixies-esque ditty ('Gas Mask Blues') and a haunting album closing ditty ('Windshield')." - All Music Guide
"In a departure from the band's debut, 'Oh, This Old Thing?', Sleeping in the Aviary bounds down the road littered with folk rock heroes of the past. 'Gas Mask Blues' is a Siamese twin to Bob Dylan's 'Maggie's Farm,' while 'Write On' opens the affair with a burst of love sick rage." - Illinois Entertainer
"Their debut full-length...was a controlled chaos of warbled vocals, fast riffing, and sentiments of abjection. This year's 'Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel' comes up with a similar thesis - but this time around, it's been filtered down to a level somewhere between post-psychotic folk music and a pre-apocalyptic drug addiction. For my money, this is a pure coclear joy." - PRICK Magazine
"Expensive Vomit begins like Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes leading an unplugged Arcade Fire, but it swiftly blasts into an unbridled rock rave-up worthy of the Pixies back when Black Francis was delivering demon-exercising howls." - The Charlotte Observer
"The raw and immediate approach that garnered the band comparisons to The Thermals is still around. It's toned down a tad, though, as SITA tackles a broader base of influences, drawing on everything from late-'90s indie pop to that sort of singer/songwriter folk that's been around forever without changing one bit. Just take it as a whiskey and speed party at the folk festival and leave it there." - Aversion
"...a raggedy sort of rock of roll, one that dips its toe into folk and the blues before galloping back into the world of clanging guitars." - Aiding & Abetting
"Touchy, creave, sappy, eclectic, and fiercely energetic all at the same time; Sleeping in the Aviary bring together an array of sound most bands can only dream of accomplishing."- Metro Spirit
"Sleeping in the Aviary has moved beyond the headlong punk abandon of their debut, crafting an impressive set of refined pop songs -- replete with 'la, la, la's,' and 'oooh-wee's!' -- even if they're still dressing them with indie noise trappings." - Elmore Magazine
"A truly graduated effort, like a fine wine, this album is a beautiful example of a band able to mature with time." - Three Imaginary Girls