As historic Chicago landmarks go, Graceland Cemetery is one of the least obtrusive: You’ve probably passed the entrance to this storied burial ground at Clark and Irving a thousand times without even realizing it’s there. Yet the resting place of some of the city’s most legendary politicians and industrialists serves as the inspiration for one of the strongest indie-pop discs to emerge from the underground music scene in the new millennium; as the press materials for Sleep Out’s second album put it, the 11 songs on “Not Even Dust” are “all inspired by Graceland Cemetery, some in more explicit ways than others. Some take the vantage point of a newly interred resident while others depict the thoughts of passersby.”
Guitarist-vocalist Quinn Goodwillie and his bandmates Nate Bartley, Sam Grant, Ben Geier and Eddie Lo made their recorded debut with “I Am Your Shroud” in 2006, but the new disc is a leap forward in terms of the sophisticated songwriting and gorgeous soundscapes; recorded in Portland by Dylan Magierk and finished in Chicago at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio, it recalls some of the best likeminded efforts those gentlemen have given us in the past, in particular Magierk’s work with Red House Painters and Albini’s contributions to the sadly under-heralded Rachel’s.
Sleep Out will celebrate its new release with a live broadcast on KEXP.org at 11 a.m. on July 16, followed by a free show that evening at the Dark Room, 2210 W. Chicago Ave. Check the group’s Web sites for more details and samples of its exquisite new sounds: www.myspace.com/sleepout and http://sleepout.net/.