Since way back, San Francisco has form for breeding trippy, psychedelic and effortlessly cool rock and roll bands. From 60’s giants such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sly & the Family Stone, to more atmospheric contemporary jams from the likes of Wooden Shijps and Comets on Fire, there is something about the West Coast that makes guitars riffs loose, hazy and played with an ease that that is almost timeless. Sleepy Sun are a band very much from this school, but offer up something of a transitionary set on their third album Spine Hits. The line up itself has changed since their sophomore effort Fever in 2010, with co-vocaslist Rachel Fannan leaving the band, and a US tour with Arctic Monkeys seems to have a left an impression as elongated fuzz-laden jams are replaced by more compact and contained song structures. This new album also sees the band teaming up the Desert Rock alumnus Dave Catching on production duties, whose hard-rock pedigree adds further definition and purpose, but also an element of the wierd to the Sleepy Sun sound

The album’s opener 'Stivey Pond' kicks off with a thin, brittle chord line, before exploding to life with wide open and distorted chords, whilst Bret Constantino's cracked and dreamy vocals dance over the top. The track then pulls back into a half speed bridge with whispered harmonies, before exploding into a wah-soaked ending, and all in under three minutes! Indeed this seems to be a running theme across the album as a whole as the band explore the full spectrum of their influences, from heavy riffs to fragile atmospherics, through effortless transitions that never labour on any one concept for longer than is absolutely necessary.

Parts of the album also offer a nod to 90’' British Rock and Roll Bands, as is evident on the brilliantly schizophrenic 'Creature', which switches between the distortion heavy verses that have the sonic anger and directness of early Oasis, and a gloriously eastern funk-tinged chorus that Kula Shaker would be proud of. But the pinnacle of this San-franManchester love-in comes in the form of 'Marytr’s Mantra', which centres on a fast and rolling guitar line straight from the John Squire school of white-boy funk that is propelled by an intricate rim-shot led drum pattern over which Contanstino's lyrics swagger and move between snatches of Acoustic, electric, and barely recognizable as guitar stabs that cut through the same relentless main riff.

However, what really makes Spine Hits work as album is that there's clearly more than one influence and style at work, and Sleepy Sun look to embrace all elements of their musical heritage and experience over the course of the 11 tracks. As well as full-on guitar blasts, there are also strong elements of Vintage-Rock and Americana, from the Stones-stripped bare guitar twang of 'Boat Trip' to the heart-rending moment halfway into 'Still Breathing' where its ambient noise collage dissolves into a beautiful acoustic ballad, with quivering vocals and soaring harmonica, a haunting move into Neil Young territory that is reached via an unexpected road.

The Band and producer Catching have clearly put a lot of heart and thought into every sound on the album that is perhaps why this effort is a lot more purposeful and concise than their previous work whilst managing to serve up stylistic surprises and curveballs throughout. As the final track 'Lioness (requiem)' segues from haunting Spaghetti Western atmospherics into a simultaneously spine-tingling and ear-shredding last guitar wig-out, it's clear that San Francisco is still a haven for expressive, powerful, and above all cool music, and Sleepy Sun fly the flag with style.