Self-proclaimed “Art Rockers” Tyler English, Evan Greenwald, Devin Clary, Jake Kopulsky and Sam Forester have undertaken Sleeping, Snarling. Under the moniker Handshake, the quintet from California invites us in to an intimate, jazz-like setting of experimentation and pure style.
Who isn’t immediately drawn to an album that opens with a Steve Howe-like guitar and lyrics that sing “Karma Sutra/is your bible?” “Other Eye (Right)” is ripe with upbeat instrumentals and an ever present bass lick that will draw you into the intimate setting the album creates around the audiophile in us. Sleeping, Snarling is loaded with a passion for music and aggressively rich compilations. One which is best listened to in the confines of a small venue or simply your headphones. Albums like this truly convey what can be accomplished with the right mindset and a passion which cannot be taught. It is an enlightening view into an underground of music yet to be experienced.
Influenced by the likes of Radiohead, Talking Heads and Fleet Foxes, it is refreshing to hear an identifiable sound built off such prominent styles. Sleeping, Snarling evolves with tracks like “Parched Dry,” which builds on climactic angst, and “Time,” which is layered with addicting guitar riffs and Clary’s ominous vocals. “Time” translates itself as a track above and beyond your sleepy little coffee shop as it grows into its own personality. Easily the most solid track on the album, it expands into an almost dark Ian Astbury vocal ending which instantly imbeds itself in your subconscious. Songs like “Siamese” and “Solemn” openly portray the pseudo-jam session cleverly restrained Handshake embodies throughout. The eight tracks are capped off by a beautifully composed “Red Balloon.” This last song bleeds with sentiment and honesty. These guys have taken their influences to heart, but hardly just recreate a sound. They find their comfort in a dynamic range, from Spanish influenced to almost tribal beats which accompany bass and guitar that are driven as more an extension of their passion than just an instrument.
In both music, whether it be the resounding guitars and bass laid down by English, Clary, Greenwald and Forrester or the orchestrating drums played by Kopulsky, Handshake have crafted an abstract, yet finely tuned record. I strongly encourage fans of the Yes-era style progressive instrumentals to give this album a spin. Each track is a life of its own, but the album creates a journey definitely worth your while.