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Sleeping at Last - Yearbook Collection Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 9.75
Production 9.5
Creativity 10
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9.75
Final Verdict: 95%
Member Ratings
Vocals 10
Musicianship 10
Lyrics 10
Production 10
Creativity 10
Lasting Value 10
Reviewer Tilt 10
Average: 100%
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Sleeping at Last - Yearbook Collection

Reviewed by: bmt !!! (11/17/11)
Sleeping at Last - Yearbook Collection
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: October 1, 2010 – September 7, 2011

I discovered Sleeping at Last as an opening band for a concert I never attended. I consider it the best concert I missed (Regina Spektor I have less pleasant memories of missing). Back in July 2010, the band made an announcement they were going to put out 3 new songs a month for a year. Three months later, the first EP started what would become an important event every first for the next year.

Storyboards saw a quieter, more toned down group after the flourishes and grandiosity of Keep No Score (and losing the founding drummer). While both records resonated, the reflective mood captured my station at that moment in my life. When October 1 rolled around, I sat eager to begin a journey, a tradition that I would continue for the next 12 months. From the onset of the adventure, I was captured. “You spend your whole your life just to remember the sound, when the world was brighter, before we learned to dim it down.”

Outside of my favorite coffee shop, I began writing a letter to my partner. While I have always written, I have never been exactly the definition of a flowery writer. While listening to “Next to Me,” I began to enter a place where I have rarely entered, one of commitment, understanding, of a feeling bigger than the page yet caught right there. At its best, music inspires a view to the inside unimpeded by your circumstances, your predicament, your place. SAL captures that as well as any group I have come across.

This project is difficult to break down into individual releases. The first three EPs follow closely in the vein of Storyboards and represent an extremely strong start, with highlights among them "Watermark," “Emphasis,” and “Accidental Light.” January finds the first instrumental (“The Ash is in Our Clothes”) and four more will follow. Ryan O’Neal (the lead singer) has always had an affinity toward film and you can hear it frequently in the music, most easily seen in these instrumental pieces. Other highlights include the lyrically strong “Intermission,” the groove and piano momentum of “Page 28” and the piercing solo spirit of “Silhouettes.” I heard this last song at a special event in partnership with Jamey Tworkowski from To Write Love on Her Arms and it was the perfect setting for such an uplifting and beautiful song. Another song of note is “Hourglass” that wraps up June. It drastically tones down the prior two songs, but personally these lyrics struck deeper than almost any other song in the entire collection. “How did we get so good at dismantling these hearts? How did we ever get so good?”

Of the entire collection, February holds the most meaning to me and captures the essence of this adventure. From the sweet love song “Dear True Love” to the wonderful lifelong perspective of “Learning Curve,” it perfectly captures all the possibilities and successes of this collection. “Land or Sea” continues to challenge my perspective of the world, much like “Do You Feel?” from The Rocket Summer. Not to be shortchanged, the closing three songs come in a close second. While not an immediate grab like prior months, I have come to appreciate these songs and it perfectly wraps up a powerful project. (I encourage you to check out the story behind "Resolve," written for an organization addressing child soldiers.)

The production of the project throughout is strong (e.g., “Land or Sea,” “Noble Aim,” “Atlantic,” flowing into “The Sea of Atlas”), special guests abound (the girls from Eisley among others), and the art work is absolutely incredible with the paintings representing unique animal events around the world (Geoff Benzing offers his talents). After the announcement of the project, I began thinking of ways I could take up a similar mantle. Not being a musician and a full-time student, I was going to have to come up with something else. I decided to write a letter a week to someone. While not as successful in my endeavor as SAL, over that period it changed my thinking, reminded me of people I had not thought of in a long time, and gave me a fresh perspective on the direction my life was heading. And it allowed my writing to go down avenues it never had. These are the ideas at the crux of Yearbook. To explore the creativity that you may box in because of the demands placed on you, whether by yourself, by time, by the pressings of life. This collection succeeds at every level and offers ourselves a glimpse into what we can achieve when we put all of our being into something and offer it selflessly for others.

Recommended If You Likefilm scores; Sigur Rós; Ólafur Arnalds; music to reflect on life; Lydia; Copeland

Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
08:58 AM on 11/21/11
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JoshSalas's Avatar
Couldn't agree more, excellent review and everyone can/should appreciate this. So many SOTY potentials on these.
08:59 AM on 11/21/11
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JoshSalas's Avatar
How they write such amazing music and lyrics this consistently blows my mind.
09:18 AM on 11/21/11
We never met, you and I
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awakeohsleeper's Avatar
It's pretty hard to do a review of a 36 song collection but you've done a good job. I love that Sleeping at Last did this. Ryan is infinitely talented. I echo the sentiments above - amazing music and lyrics. Completely incredible.
10:01 AM on 11/21/11
Qualified Personnel
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ObjectsinMirror's Avatar
I love when an artist does something genuinely artistic and creative like this. I was able to follow this project from the beginning, and it's been a breath of fresh air in the current state of music.
10:21 AM on 11/21/11
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8SlicesOfPie's Avatar
Amazing collection. Really hit me hard.
10:30 AM on 11/21/11
I hate my username.
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Mr.Piano93's Avatar
Haven't heard the entire thing yet, but I am sure it is quite amazing.
Got to interview Dan (who quit the band a few months back) for my senior project and he was such a nice guy. I'm sure Sleeping at Last will take Ryan far, especially considering they have a song on the new Twilight soundtrack..
07:27 PM on 11/21/11
bmt !!!
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bmt !!!'s Avatar
I appreciate all the positive feedback. While I will not be near any of the lines for Twilight, I am thrilled for the possibility of Ryan taking a huge leap in popularity with the film, especially given his song comes in at the wedding and their first night together (from his blog). Just a heads up, the box set will be available for ordering soon (physical copies), so keep an eye out at the web store. Thanks for reading.
07:32 PM on 11/21/11
bmt !!!
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bmt !!!'s Avatar
It's pretty hard to do a review of a 36 song collection but you've done a good job. I love that Sleeping at Last did this. Ryan is infinitely talented. I echo the sentiments above - amazing music and lyrics. Completely incredible.
When I started writing, I had it broken down into four quarters/seasons. But it became too difficult to review individual EPs that way, started turning too personal, and just not quality writing. Looking at the collection as a whole became the only way and it felt like there was a need here to highlight all of this great work so I went with it.
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