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Sleave

Don't Expect Anything

Review by Gary Hill

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, this act seems to pull in the best parts of a lot of styles to create a sound that is both familiar and innovative. "Alternative rock" would probably be the single term to describe them, but it doesn't really capture everything about this act. They have plenty of punk rock, post punk, and pop punk in the mix. That's not even the extent of the reference points, but it comes close. However you describe or categorize this, it's an exceptionally effective release.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
All This Time
The noisy chord that starts this just screams "rock!" That leads into an introductory section that gives way to a killer alternative rock mode. The vocals strengthen that concept as they join. This is a meaty and crunchy rocker that has some cool hooks. I hear things like Collective Soul on this, but it's a unique sound overall.
Cataracts
This one also powers in heavy. It drops to a mellower motif for the vocals. There is a punky edge to a lot of it. Some of the vocals when it powers up are literally screaming. This has a definite post punk sound. It seems that both Jane's Addiction and The Cure might show up on the influences list here. This is a real powerhouse. I love the dynamic range it shows off, but more importantly, it rocks like crazy.
Swept
Coming in screaming and noisy, this settles into a jam that has a melodic hard rocking sound that definitely makes me think of The Cure. This has a good energy and a great balance between more powered up and mellower sounds. It has a modern alternative rock sound to a lot of it, too. This is post-punk at its most potent. It's also my favorite song here. This one is just about worth the price of admission all by itself.
Engine
Another alternative rocker, this is a solid tune, but a bit lackluster after that last powerhouse. That's more about the strength of that song than any weakness in this one, though. This definitely rocks. It has a good dynamic range and some cool riffs and hooks.
Homebound
A high energy rocker, this is killer stuff. It has a driving drum beat. The vocals land more in the alternative, post punk zone. I dig the crunchy sound on the guitar. The tune has some intriguing changes and gets into some screaming zones at times.
Check Myself
The contrast between the intense, screaming rocking parts and the mellower spoken/screamed vocal sections works so well here. This is another that manages to rise above the rest of the set to stand as one of the highlights. It's just a hot tune. It gets into some almost hardcore sounds later as vocals scream over the top of the intense musical backdrop.
Funeral
We're back into more standard alternative rock on this cut. It's more melodic, and drops to a pop rock zone for the entrance of the vocals. There is some balance between rocking and mellower parts. This cut is the most pop-like thing here It works pretty well, but is less impressive than most of the other stuff around it. That said, it does lend some well-needed variety.
Better Abettor
Grunge, hardcore punk and alternative rock all merge on this tune. It's aggressive and yet catchy. It's also very compelling. This is another strong tune on a disc with no shortage of potent music.
Charlton
Melodic alternative rock is the key component on this number. It has some more powered up sections, but never really gets into the rawer zones of some of the other stuff here. I like the variety this provides, but it's not a standout song for me.  
Drinkin'
Fast paced, driving and a bit raw. this is a hard rocker with a lot of style. It's more pure punk in a lot of ways, but it does have a bit of pop punk edge. I wouldn't call this emo, but it does have some of the catchier elements of that style in the mix.
Sam's Song
Starting with the sounds of the street (or an outdoor club, perhaps), this works out from there to a jam that has a lot of shoegaze meets post punk sound built into it. It drives through a number of variations and alterations as it makes its way forward. The vocals don't join until after the three-and-a-half-minute mark. They bring a bit more pure punk with them. This is a killer tune.
Expect the World
This starts with a rather distant and mellower arrangement. That part holds the first vocals of the song in an introductory way. The tune powers out from there, moving more toward the front of the soundscape. It drops back down for another verse, but remains more at the forefront when it does. This is another alternative meets post punk sort of number. It works well, in this first section, but doesn't really stand out. The cut screams out later into a shoegaze turned hardcore punk section. That ends the disc in style.
 
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