The seven-year history of Small Leaks Sink Ships has been dogged by a series of alternately bizarre and tragic events which, if you believed in fate, might lead you to conclude that someone up there would rather they weren’t together. In 2009, pianist Ryan Garner was hit by a car and took almost a year to recover. Two years later, the band’s cross-country tour was cancelled when vocalist Judd Hancock was diagnosed with cancer (thankfully, he too returned to full health). Most recently, Rafeal Macias broke his collarbone in a vespa accident, leading to the band’s admission that they had suffered more “shattered spines, missing testicles and metal-bone reconstruction” than your average experimental rock act.
However, in each instance, Small Leaks Sink Ships soldiered on, ironically ignoring the potentially rather large leaks threatening to sink their ever-crumbling ship. And we should be grateful for this, particularly those of us who get a kick out of avant-garde math rock, which is perhaps the best way to describe the playful, twitchy, instantly charming sound that this Portland-based outfit produce. Their latest album, Face Your Yourself, and Remove Your Sandals was self-recorded in their beloved Oak Street Basement and is an authentic, big-hearted, multi-layered piece of work.
Undeterred by everything the world has thrown at them, Small Leaks have gone on to open for some notable acts (Russian Circles, Phantogram) and are slowly but surely picking up critical accolades right across the board. Well worth a look, people.
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