40 Best St. Louis Releases of 2011: Part Five

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Part One: The Union Electric, Sweet Tooth, King Kong Magnetics, Warm Jets USA
Part Two: Glass Teeth, Ryan Spearman, the Breaks and Adult Fur
Part Three: Rum Drum Ramblers, Humanoids, Old Lights and Volcanoes
Part Four: Bo & the Locomotive, Rockwell Knuckles, Dubb Nubb and Palace

Sleepy Kitty | Infinity City

With its collaged artwork of color-splashed buildings, found urban sounds, hard as steel and glass guitars and drums, noisy power surges, freewheeling rhythms and some place-checking lyrics, Sleepy Kitty's debut full-length album is a love letter to St. Louis -- Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult's relatively newly-adopted hometown -- and a farewell note to their old home base of Chicago.

If any album this year was a breakout album for a St. Louis band, Infinity City was it. The second most played local release on KDHX (88.1 FM) this year, the record manages to be both artfully experimental and wildly accessible.

Below, drummer Evan Sult leads us through the album, track by track.

"Gimme a Chantz!" - "That's one of the oldest songs on the album. It was on our self-released EP What I Learned This Summer. It's the song that got Paige and I together playing seriously. It shows the theatricality that Paige is drawn to, and that I fully endorse."

"Speaking Politely" - "It's a good song for us because it's so noisy. I don't know why, but we were getting asked to play all these quiet, acoustic shows, and we'd have to politely decline. It's easy for people to miss that we love to rock. The drums on that song are as big as I can make them. If I could make them bigger I would."

"Seventeen" - "We were playing something else, a very Velvet Underground riff. We had been talking about the Beatles and Paige started singing 'I Saw Her Standing There.' I heard it almost as a murder ballad. It became this foreboding thing. Not because I was singing it but because she was singing it in this inappropriate drone setting. That's probably my favorite song to play live."

"Way Out" - "We were in Jason Hutto's basement studio, Paige was upstairs on a piano with questionable tuning but which had a cool voice. We all stopped because we heard something in the mics. It turned out to be a rainstorm outside. As she was playing, I asked Jason to get a 'rain mic,' and without knowing what that was, he grabbed a mic and put it out the backdoor. At the beginning of the piano section there's a thunder roll that happened in real time."

"NYC Really Has It All" - "It's really about a character in Chicago sending a letter to a character in New York about the changes in Chicago. It documents the reasons we stopped being a good fit with our neighborhood in Chicago."

"Ridin' With St. Louis" - "That's the one I get to say I wrote the lyrics. It's funny because it's pretty much just that phrase. We like the concept of having Saint Louis riding shotgun with you."

"Heavy Mother" - "That's a really intentional collage, taking a mic out into the world and trying to use it. The voice you hear is this guy Obah Maja who we would see on our street. He'll give you a poem for a buck. We got into the habit of asking him to read the poem to us and we recorded it at one point."

"School's Out" - "I held that song up for a while. There was something in the drumming I didn't like. Finally enough time passed, and it made it on the record, and I didn't notice that it was exactly the same. I really think of that as a Paige song that I get to help out with."

"Chimera" - "That's a short sound bleep from our practice space. We were figuring out loop pedals, Paige was just figuring out piano. We call those 'nodes.' I don't think every piece of information on an album needs to be a song."

"Dykula" - "That's one where we get to punk out. The influences are really obvious, like '60s pop. I get to say, 'Shoo bop, shoo bop,' which I totally love."

"Ridin' With St. Louis" - Sleepy Kitty by RFTMusicShowcase2011

Key Track - "Ridin' With St. Louis" begins heavy and bluesy, with echoes of the White Stripes, and then, slowly, it builds and builds, then dissolves into an eerie mix of fuzz, hiss and chants. It's a scary, exciting, late-night ride that captures what makes the band so compelling.

Places You're Most Likely to Hear the Artist - Firebird, Foam, Off Broadway and even the Royale, where Brubeck and Sult occasionally moonlight as DJs.

--Roy Kasten

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