Sleepy Kitty Releases New EP 'Bastard Orphan' this November
For Sleepy Kitty, doing someone else's song is always about transforming the content and context. The duo made The Beatles' peppy meet-cute "I Saw Her Standing There" much wilder and weirder - and darker - on debut album Infinity City. On the new Bastard Orphan EP, Sleepy Kitty deconstructs seven songs from the hit musical Hamilton to create energetic lo-fi gems author Lin-Manuel Miranda never saw coming.
The project started purely as amusement. The Hamilton soundtrack was on heavy rotation in the Sleepy Kitty tour van, and eventually vocalist/guitarist Paige Brubeck noted the song "That Would Be Enough"'s melodic similarities to Guided By Voices' "I Am a Scientist." Drummer Evan Sult was dubious, so she worked up a version to prove it. One experiment led to another, and soon the duo was sneaking a couple Hamilton songs into their set almost as a dare. The intensity of the response from Hamilton lovers - they're everywhere, even indie rock clubs - convinced the band to get their versions down on tape.
The intention, Brubeck says, is to "make music for people who love AND hate musicals alike." This isn't some pop-punk reheat: Sleepy Kitty breaks the songs apart, sifting for the fragments that fit the dynamic they're after. Sonically, Bastard Orphan takes inspiration from Guided By Voices' Alien Lanes and Sonic Youth's Sister. Texturally, the tracks are classic '90s lo-fi, veering from intimate stories over warm tape hiss to heroic guitars on crashing drums. No prior exposure to Hamilton is required, but any self-proclaimed "Hamster" will recognize Miranda's infectious melodies. In Sleepy Kitty's fragmented re-telling, "Eliza" is a rousing anthem of love and faith, "Raise a Glass" is a political party-starter, and "History Has Its Eyes on You" resonates with fresh emotional and social immediacy. Just hearing the character of General George Washington in a female voice is a revelation!
This isn't Sleepy Kitty's first go at musicals. Projection Room's breezy, surf-inflected "All I Do Is Dream of You" resembles Best Coast far more than the Singin' in the Rain tune, and their moody, French-language take on Phantom of the Opera's "Point of No Return" sounds like Françoise Hardy in her prime.
Bastard Orphan will be released in a limited run by Euclid Records in November 2017. With a number of special guests on the recordings, including the Bottle Rockets' John Horton, Sleepy Kitty is putting together a rare expanded-lineup release event in their St. Louis hometown to showcase their inventive take on these fanatically loved songs.<