Sleeping in the Aviary

by Troy Johnson
November 2010

For Sleeping In The Aviary, lo-fi recordings, concerted effort band photographs, and dynamic live performances are all the building blocks to an indie-rock masterpiece. Guitar player and lead vocalist, Elliott Kozel, and bass player, Phil Mahlsedt, have been building a sound together since high school and officially became Sleeping In The Aviary over 6 years ago. After losing a couple drummers, their third and permanent drummer became Michael Sienkowski, and after the release of their first album “Oh, That Old Thing”, Celeste Heule joined the band in 2008, bringing with her a stage presence that fits along with her talents on accordion and musical saw.

In their live performances, Kozel is often in bare feet, stepping back and forth from the microphone with agile movements while their bass player Phil does a stupor to the rhythm. In all facets, Kozel is aesthetically conscious; he does macabre cover art that has a Tim Burton semblance, which has become a trademark for fans of the band.

The now Minneapolis-based band releases their third album, “Great Vacation”, November 30, 2010. All of their albums are released on small Madison independent record label, Science Of Sound, that releases all of the bands’ albums on both vinyl and CD. The list of bands on the label (that include The Hussy, His And Her Vanities, Icarus Himself, and others) have almost all played shows together at some point and each are worth your time to check out.

In the titular song, Sleeping In The Aviary can vary from moody, low acoustic storytelling to fast, fuzzy punk riffs that are charged by Elliot Kozel’s high screaming vocals. Their third album is a new sound for the band that includes Kyle Sobczak playing a lot of lead guitar parts and lots of new sounds never heard from the band before. It is less of a pop sound than their first two releases. Having a different sound for the new album is a conscious focus for the band. A couple of the songs from “Great Vacation” will have music videos which is a first for the band.

Kozel told me about how the the band’s releases have changed in the past four years. “Our first one was when we were young and really excited. We were spastic and crazy. The second album was calmer, a little bit more lo-fi. The album goal for “Great Vacation” was to overproduce and see how many sounds we could shove into the sandwich,” He said, “Some people who didn’t like our first two albums will like this one and some people will hate it. It’s different from the first two.”

For their show schedule and music samples, they stay up-to-date and accessible to fans on Facebook and MySpace, and their official website is bizarre, authentically nonchalant, and not always up-to-date but fun to surf. Kozel said of the web page, “band websites are kind of useless now, anyway. I used images that were already on my computer and paint shop. Hopefully people get a laugh out of it.”

Sleeping In The Aviary has an Album Release Show for “Great Vacation” at the Frequency in Madison, WI on November 27, 2010.

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CD: Great Vacation Record Label: Science of Sound
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