Sleep City: From West Warwick to the West Coast

The Blueprint
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 18, 2011

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ROAD WARRIORS Coulombe, Tartaglia, Asselin, O'Brien, Nelson, and Baglini.

For all the talk of our burgeoning indie-folk/Americana music community here, the post-hardcore/melodic metal acts have also been making some serious noise. Add Coventry/West Warwick young guns Sleep City into the mix when talking up notable screamo bands on the move.

Together just over one year with the current six-man lineup, Sleep City released their debut EP Still Breathing a few months ago and quickly found themselves signed to Ohio-based label InVogue Records, which will send the sextet on a nationwide co-headlining festival tour in July and pretty much nonstop through August (a total of five days off in two months), preceded by a run of East Coast and Midwest dates with fellow post-hardcore locals A Faylene Sky (the two bands share the same Washington-based management company). When I spoke with guitarist Matt Baglini this week, he was crystal clear on the band's plans — these guys may be young, but clearly they have no intention of fucking up a promising opportunity following the attention Still Breathing garnered. Baglini (aka Marty Bags) laid down the blueprint.

"Our plan is to tour until next fall and finish writing our sophomore EP, with tentative plans set to record next January immediately preceding our second full national tour and an album release in the summer of 2012."

Judging by the packed rooms at the Met and Lupo's for kindred melodic-metalheads like Kodiak Attack (and Penrose before them), Rhode Island provides a solid platform for a band such as Sleep City. But I asked what separates or differentiates them from the rest of the pack. Baglini was a diplomatic pro with his succinct response.

"The difference is that we are six musicians before we're one band," Baglini said. "Our individual influences hail from everything from jazz to hardcore to pop rock."

Fans of heavy stuff from local vets like the Empire Shall Fall and up-and-comers Say Hello to Goliath should lay down the $7 for a copy of Still Breathing (available at iTunes, CD at MerchNOW.com). Lead singer Kevin Coulombe hits the soaring high notes backed by the bile-stirring death growls of 19-year-old Stephen Tartaglia. Big ringing chords usher in both vocalists on "The Artic Oasis" (is that a West Warwick salute there?): "Stop fucking smiling when I scream!" the duo howls during the closing seconds. "Truth be told, this city's catching up with me," Coulombe sings on "Blueprints for a Dream," most likely acknowledging the small-town boredom and forthcoming possibilities ("And now I've reached death in the search for life," he intones on "The Road to Awe [Xibalba]"). And the entire band storms the vocal booth on "Post Meridiem," with the chant "I can't find my way, so take me back home, to the one that I know," followed by the guys cracking open beers. They all settle down a bit during the latter half of the EP's closer, "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway," with O'Brien and bassist Matt Nelson steadying the pace. Sleep City operates as an airtight unit all over the EP (drummer Matt "Beard" O'Brien is a double-bass pounding champ), and I can't imagine how Tartaglia's voice survived the recording sessions.

Sleep City's next big move is a headlining gig at Lupo's next weekend, and they'll return for a hometown show on July 16 in the midst of their roadwork. Check the band's Facebook page for the full nationwide itinerary.

SLEEP CITY + KODIAK ATTACK + SIDESHOW + WORLD IN ARMS + SAY HELLO TO GOLIATH + DJ SAVANT & GUESTS | Friday, May 27 @ 8 pm | Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, 79 Washington Street, Providence | $12 | facebook.com/SleepCityrock

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