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Despite this Atlanta quintet's abundance of leather and tattoos, the digestible slabs of hard, melodic rock on their debut album sound as squeaky-clean as they come. But where carefully sculpted, highly polished production has sounded the death knell of many a decibel-heavy emo/punk/rock record, Not An Angel benefits from the severe scrubbing at the console. Melodic to their radio-ready core, City Sleeps (something of a misnomer) melds a love of volume to a penchant for wearing their hearts on their sleeves. For every chorus of "Be a man / Don't let her do that to you," a handful of songs pine for the ladies with the shameless ache of youth. Lyrically surreal moments--Jesus as a real-life mannequin, a girl who kisses "like a prototype"--bridge the gap from machismo to heartbreak, but just when Not An Angel moves dangerously close to taking itself too seriously, the band jerks into an odd time signature, drops a military snare-drum roll, stomps on the distortion pedals, and soldiers forward. In a just world, then, City Sleeps should climb the backs of contemporaries like Fall Out Boy and their chart-topping pop/punk ilk. Unlikely, perhaps, but stay tuned. --Jason Kirk
This album was originally titled "Hotel" and supposed to be released by Maverick Records sometime around 2004 or 2005 with a significant summer tour spot to follow, but Maverick ended up dropping City Sleeps before they received any major exposure, and the album never made it to the shelves. City Sleeps would return to Atlanta and perform several shows with songs from the album as well as some really killer tunes not on the album. When a deal with Trustkill Records was in the works, City Sleeps appeared to have finally caught the break they needed. Strangely, the album released in 2007 by Trustkill Records is literally the album that was supposed to come out years earlier on Maverick Records. The only real change is that the album is titled "Not An Angel" rather than "Hotel". This is slightly disappointing since all the tracks had been available for download for quite some time (or a cd with the Prototype music video available for purchase at shows), and fans may have been anticipating either an album with the newer songs or some kind of mix of old and new songs.
In any case, Not An Angel is a solid album. Produced by Goldfinger's John Feldman, this album has some very polished sounding songs on it. Songs like Prototype, Not An Angel, Ordinary High have a lot of very interesting pop-sounding melodies, but the heaviness is there too. Elliot Sharps' voice is cleaned up very nicely and sounds great, and all of Adriel Garcias' guitar playing is layered extremely well. John London Whitney's drumming is also mixed in very well. The album seems to credit Brad Allen as the bassist, but I believe Mars Davlan was the bassist when the album was originally recorded for Maverick Records.
Not An Angel would be all she wrote for City Sleeps. The album did not end up making much of a splash, but City Sleeps did not secure any kind of major tour spot following the release of the album. I always found it puzzling that Trustkill Records did seem interested in effectively promoting City Sleeps. It seemed like all the band needed was maybe a spot on the line-up for Vans Warped Tour or something similar, but it did not happen for whatever reason.
The album is not without it's flaws, though. I had hoped that since the album was not going to be titled "Hotel" that the tracks "Hotel" and "Check-out" would be chopped. The two songs, both of which are short filler tracks to introduce and conclude the album, were kept. On top of that, the song "Catch Me If You Can", which was cut from the intended Maverick release, is also absent on "Not An Angel". Lastly, the album only runs at just over a half-hour of music, which makes it disappointingly short.
City Sleeps endured a nasty break-up in 2008. Issues between guitarist Adriel Garcia and singer Elliot Sharp became a very public feud as the two published their grievances against one another via social media. Within a day or two of Elliot Sharp leaving the band, bassist/former back-up guitarist Steve Milo left the band as well, leaving City Sleeps down to just guitarist Adriel Garcia and drummer John London Whitney. Garcia expressed interest in auditioning vocalists to find a suitable replacement for Elliot Sharp, but the search either did not go well or fell apart for other reasons. Elliot Sharp was never replaced, and City Sleeps is no more.
Fortunately, City Sleeps fans did get the one album Not An Angel, and other City Sleeps fans have put the unreleased songs online. The music videos for Prototype and Not An Angel can also still be found on youtube.