The Special Pillow
The Special Pillow's sixth sensational collection of psychedelic pop, encompassing winsome melodies, garage-rock crunch, snappy bubblegum hooks, orchestral flourishes, and tripped-out ambience
For the past two decades, The Special Pillow have operated from the margins of the marginal, creating a distinctive string-driven sound—a heady brew encompassing concise ’60s-flavored pop gems, dreamy psychedelic reveries, and a propulsive drive redolent of the antipodean indie acts of the ‘80s. In 2015, Yo La Tengo shined a light on the Pillow’s shadowy demimonde with their cover of the band’s “Automatic Doom.” Now, The Special Pillow unleash Sleeping Weird, their senses-shattering sixth album.
Since the dissolution of cult heroes Hypnolovewheel, songwriter and majordomo Dan Cuddy has played bass with such notable combos as Sleepyhead and XL Kings, but has reserved his own compositions for The Special Pillow.
Sleeping Weird is the group’s third project with engineer Mitch Rackin, recorded and mixed at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge recording studio. Featured players are charter Special Pillow member Katie Gentile (Run On, Mad Scene) on violin and viola; longtime collaborator Peter Stuart (Headless Horsemen, Tryfles) on a staggering arsenal of guitars; and Eric Marc Cohen (Fly Ashtray) on drums and percussion. All the band members contribute vocals, and the ensemble is enhanced by the keyboards of Ariella Stok (Sloppy Heads) and horns courtesy of Steven Levi and Cheryl Kingan (The Scene Is Now).
A much-abused hyperbolic trope of recent years posits that a given work of art has special resonance with “the way we live now” or is needed “now more than ever.” We won’t attempt to convince you that Sleeping Weird is such a topical watershed. The Special Pillow are in it for life and their lives are reflected in these songs: The days are getting dark and they want a way to keep the world at bay, sweep everything under the rug, and retreat to a cryogenic tomb. But it’s getting older every day and they’re concerned about it and it seems as though their skulls may burst into flames if they don’t speak out loud. They’re floating on, and singing.