Yet another thrift store/close out score, bought on a whim because the cover art and DIY packaging caught the eye, strikes pay-dirt with Polite Sleeper, a three piece that hailed from Brooklyn, NY, but garnered most of their fame and following in the thriving underground scenes of Europe. The artfully homemade (read: hand crafted) and highly inspired DIY packaging (not amateurish in the least, btw) gave off such a cool vibe that I just had to have it, even at three times the price of the myriad other CD’s that, apparently, are only able to bring in $.99 on the resale market (and judging from the fact that the majority of them have been collecting dust on these shelves for the past few years, $.99 is a highly speculative value to place on them).
Upon successfully transporting this gem home, it promptly slipped my mind until, a few months later, I happened upon it in a pile of junk on my desk. Throwing it in the earbuds yielded an interesting and unusual sound that I was quite unaccustomed to, and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the sometimes harsh acoustic guitars, vocals that swung back and forth from whiny to angry (with a bit of thoughtful in between), sometimes unwieldy keyboards, and intricate rhythms that both held it all down and drove it all forward at once. After the third listen to what I would shortly find out was merely the first of four releases over Polite Sleeper’s five year career, their self-titled five song CD, I was hooked. It wasn’t long before I found their web site and purchased Turf, which delivered what I now consider to be some of Polite Sleeper’s finest moments. With a little more poking around, I was aghast to discover that they had disbanded.
So. Polite Sleeper. Folk, experimental, emotional and crazy, throughout their career remaining true to a punk ethos playing basements and warehouses, being 100% DIY, recording in living rooms and kitchens, keeping the background noise (and even manipulating it at times to fit into their songs), all of this, even the traffic noise and dead notes, serving as a reminder that the best music is made by real people who live in a world that is gritty and imperfect as often as it is beautiful and shiny, and that some of the best moments are when these seeming opposites collide.
So, enjoy a few live videos from around the world, and one studio version – and visit the archive, a tribute to the site that went down literally days after I discovered Polite Sleeper had ceased to exist. (video playlist link)