It’s been a hot minute since I’ve reached into my always growing box of releases to review. Life has been nutty what with concerts, work and trying to keep some resemblance of a social life. Today is honestly the first day in a long while where I’ve had time to just sit at home and listen to some new music without knowing I would have to leave the apartment soon so, after brewing a fresh pot of coffee that I clearly didn’t need, I closed my eyes, reached into the box of random albums on my desk and pulled out Chris Koza’s ‘Sleepwalkers Part 1′. I sat back and just let the music and rush of caffeine take me over.
The first thing that struck me as the first track “Sleepwalkers” started was the sensitivity of Chris’ voice. Although calm and collected, there was this sense of driving energy behind it. Within moments I fell in love with his lyrics. “I guess I never put to rest the sleepwalkers in my mind.” After a fairly sleepless night, it hit home. Those lyrics mixed with the dreamy indie-pop tendencies of the instrumentation was the absolutely perfect sound to help me get through my normal Sunday afternoon lull. Just as I was drifting away, the ten song album continued into “Anagram” which started off with a stunning slide guitar sound. Picking up the tempo, it was clear to me by this second track this I was going to get a little bit of everything from this album. The indie-pop sensibilities were quickly swapped out for an almost southern folk-rock vibe during “Anagram”.
Track three, “White Lions” is definitely one of my favorites. The track starts off with a pounding piano which is a sound that always gets me. I loved the way that the pounding of the piano keys stayed a constant in this song but not overwhelming. A bit more rocking then the previous two songs, I couldn’t help but tap my toe and nod my head to the infectious beat. I’m sure anyone walking by my apartment thought I was having a seizure of some sort but I didn’t care. Chris Koza and his amazing band already had me in the palm of their hand but this song definitely put me over the edge. The way the song slides into the next track, “Music To Me”, is truly something beautiful. The energy from “White Lions” is replaced by a sense of tenderness as Chris’ voice dances in the most perfect way over the minimalist instrumentation of this song.
“Hush” was definitely one of the most beautiful songs on this album. Chris’ voice goes from this energetic vibe with an almost southern drawl to the king of the indie world. Soft and almost whispered at times, this is one of those songs that you don’t have to see live in order to feel the passion and love that Chris has for his music. The guitar, drums and all of the other instruments behind him seem to respect the space of the vocals making it a true stand out song. Although much sweeter and calmer than the previous songs, this song fits so perfectly and acts like a bit of a breather as it’s situated in the middle of this impressive ten song album.
Like a rollercoaster, track six, “Red Cassette”, seems to take that calmness of “Hush” and edge it closer to the rocking energy of “White Lions” cutting the difference in the most perfect way. The harmony to Chris’ voice provided by Alicia Christenson is goosebump inducing. Too perfect to the point where I would love to see Chris and Alicia put out an album together, this song was definitely up there when it came to my favorite on the album (although there was no beating “White Lions”). The energy continues to grow as the album proceeds into “Station Wagon Blues”. Although it has blues in the title, this song is far from a blues song. Maybe a little blues infused, this track almost had an old timey care free vibe to it. A perfect song for sitting on the edge of the pool while dangling your feet into the cold water with the sun beating on your back, it was the perfect song to daydream to while I stared outside at the snow that is still on the ground here in Minneapolis.
My favorite song if you just want to talk about lyrics is definitely “Man of Stone”. Lyrics are obviously interpreted differently depending on who is listening and what kind of mood you are in but for today this song stood out as being a bit of an anthem about being along, being okay with being along, and just being as strong as you can with no regrets. The retro like sound matched the lyrics in the most perfect way. Although simplistic on the outside, there are these beautiful guitar parts hidden underneath it all. This matches the way the lyrics can either be deep or not and I absolutely loved that effect.
With the album winding down, I was expecting a giant finale for the last two songs but the second to last song “Hollywood Theatre” was a bit of a surprise as it’s soft and sweet much like “Hush”. Again with a simplistic yet beautiful piano part in the beginning, I was instantly sold on this track. Even when the band jumps in, there’s still this very sensitive nature to Chris’ voice and every single drum hit. Everything on this album is done with intention and this song is a perfect example of that. In control and totally relaxed, if this song doesn’t sooth any anxiety or worry in your mind then I don’t know what to tell you. I found myself listening to this track a couple of times over just because I loved the way it seemed to set me free.
“Where We Go” was the anthemic ending I had been wanting from this album. Taking the sensitivity of “Hollywood Theatre” and expanding on it with a driving force in the drums and the familiar pounding piano, this was the perfect ending to a next to perfect album. I love the albums where the last song makes you want to go back to the beginning and start the journey all over again and that is exactly what “Where We Go” does.
The only reason I picked this album this morning was because I closed my eyes and it was the one I grabbed onto but maybe there was a different power behind this pick. Chris Koza’s ‘Sleepwalkers Part 1’ was the perfect Sunday afternoon treat and I truly can’t wait to see what ‘Part 2’ will bring (there will be a ‘Part 2’ right?!)
My Favorite Track(s): “White Lions”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 6.2 out of 10
Day-Dream-ability: 7.2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis Slept By His Empty Food Dish; Autumn Slept On My Bed
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.1 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5
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