Those Kivel boys are at it again, and again they aim to please. As members of Princeton brothers Matt and Jesse soaked in the island sun, and Jesse’s project Kisses could serve as a soundtrack for Silver Lake. Matt takes the lead with their latest project, Sleeping Bags.

The band’s self-titled debut sounds pretty much like you’d think an album entitled Sleeping Bags should – fuzzy, cozy, dreamy, comfortable. The instrumental opening track “Before” envelops you, pulling you down, convincing you to sink deeper and deeper.

A good chunk of the album is instrumental, and the songs with lyrics bury Matt Kivel’s vocals in layers of fuzz that make them seem more like a subliminal message or a passing thought than poetry in motion. The entire album hovers somewhere between sleep and waking, from the fitful “Shark” to the sweeping “Cantaloupe” and its pied-piper guitar line that beckons you to come skipping across the cosmic waves. An excellent addition to your fall rotation, Sleeping Bags is ready to roll on your hazy Sunday mornings.–

Sleeping Bags dropped 09.13.11.
Listen to the album at their Bandcamp site and go here to download “Park”.

i feel a certain appeal is enough

LA duo Kisses (Jesse Kivel of Princeton and Zinzi Edmundson) and their new album The Heart of the Nightlife sound like the names imply – airy, sophisticated, fun, relaxed. Full of breezy jams that are equally at home poolside in the hills or on an open-air dance floor, The Heart of the Nightlife has a chameleonic quality allowing it to shift from day to night, carefree to contemplative.

Eponymous track “Kisses” is smooth and evokes images of white sand beaches and deep blue water. Follow-up “Bermuda” stays on the same path, its bouncy sway and shimmering chimes making it perfect music for cruising among the palms, top down. Middle Eastern themes influence “On the Move” and the album’s instrumental title track. Kivel is responsible for a bulk of the album’s vocals, but Edmundson’s voice comes through on “A Weekend in Brooklyn”.

“Midnight Lover” is has promise, but the repeated phrase “I would like to take you out for a nice steak dinner / just me and you” is ridiculous and an ill fit for the rest of the record. All is forgiven, though, by the inclusion of the stellar track “People Can Do the Most Amazing Things”. Kisses leave the beach behind for the dark of the club. It’s the 80s. As the coked-up horde dances around you, you wipe the tears from your face, staining your lace cutoff gloves with salt and mascara. Swirling lights bounce off the walls, and you realize that everything in your life is falling apart. This is the soundtrack to your life.

The Heart of the Nightlife drops 11.16.10.
Click to download “Bermuda“.