Sleepy Driver
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Sleepy Driver

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada | SELF

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada | SELF
Band Alternative Americana


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"Fredericton band's new album is 'stunning'"

Fredericton's Peter Hicks was behind one of this decade's most ambitious and fascinating music releases, the 2003 self-titled alt popper by queencab. Hicks and Ryan Lamey delivered a bakers' dozen bits of perfect pop with electronic undercores and a steady groove.

That said, I am still blindsided by Hicks' latest musical project. He has taken another 13 songs written through the years and given them an alternative roots rock backdrop.

Hicks and his band Sleepy Driver officially launch the album Steady Now Thursday, July 23 at the James Joyce Pub at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queen Street. The show begins at 8 p.m.

With this album, Hicks shows himself to be the rarest of musicians - a four-tool artist with respect to lyric, melody, playing, and vocals.

While his shining star is still his lyrics, his equally well-honed sense of melody and songcraft gets a broader focus on this album than on the more esoteric, albeit delightful queencab effort. As well, he works nicely within a quintet on this album as a multi-instrumentalist, and he delivers his riveting stories with evocative vocals.

Talented locals flesh out the band. While bassist Mike Hatheway, drummer Barry Hughes, and keyboardist John Heinstein are a solid meat-and-potatoes rhythm section, the discovery is Ethan Young-Lai, who dazzles with guitars, mandolin, accordion, banjo, and am occasional synth.

Hicks' lyrical comfort zone is one inhabited by many songwriters, but it is not hyperbole to say that this Fredericton native does tales of rich hues of darkness imbued with shots of life and hope in a world-class fashion.

He looks at a troubled partner in the Matthew Sweet-reminiscent album opener Like A Weapon and gives more sharp images in one song than most writers give on an entire album - "I gave you love and you hold it like a weapon,-You're dragging that old heart around like a suitcase by the handle," and, ultimately, "I need you, yes, I need you like an answer needs a question."

The context thus fully realized, the bottom line "How long until it all goes down?" is all the more tragic and riveting.

The same lyrical plaudits can be given to the entire album, which reads like a who's who of classic influences on a fresh and new package: Drowning In My Dreams, a bit of jangle pop with country spices that suggests an organic Eagles; the Go-Betweens-reminiscent North Dakota; the Frank Black-inspired Architects.

As for the basics of pop and rock, they are here too - visceral songs of love sought, found, or unrequited. Clear examples are the ballad Watch You Sleep and the lilting album closer Where You Are.

Granted, the 80s feel of queencab is absent for the most part; the most notable exceptions are the bridge of Scars and the quirky feel that pervades all of the wry Lazy Eye.

As well, not everyone will like a whole album filled with clever darkness. However, others will simply have their jaw drop with the depth of pieces like the grooving jangler of a personal epitaph to loved ones Only Water and the popped up bit of Warren Zevon When The Lights Come On.

In short, this is an album that simply begs to be heard by a worldwide audience. With a bit of polish on the band end, it could be on several year-end best-of lists across this mortal coil.

However, what it is in the immediate sense is one of the most stunning local albums to ever be committed to disc. - Wilfred Langmaid - The Daily Gleaner

"Wake Up to Sleepy Driver"

For a band that wasn't supposed to happen, Fredericton's Sleepy Driver has come out with one hell of a debut CD. Sleepy's first full length disc Steady Now gets the official CD launch treatment next Thursday, July 23 at the James Joyce pub on Fredericton home ice.

Steady Now is a solid 13 song collection of roots rockers that would not sound out of place on a playlist that includes Wilco, the JayHawks or Ryan Adams. The disc and the band started to germinate while head driver Peter Hicks was revisiting an ever-growing collection of tunes he'd been penning over the years.

"I've been in a lot of different bands and covered a lot of different styles. I've been in a reggae band and a pop band and stuff like that but I've always been writing songs. Some of those songs didn't fit into what I was doing at the time so I just put them aside. When I'd go back to re-visit them I noticed that there was a group of songs that had the same kind of feel and covered a lot of the same subject matter. I began to feel that these songs needed to be explored a bit more and that I needed to find the right people to play with."

And so, Sleepy Driver was born. Over the past couple of years the Sleepys have undergone a few lineup changes, but Hicks feels that the current roster of himself on vocals and guitar, Barry Hughes on drums and vocals, Ethan Young-Lai on guitar, John Heinstein on piano and organ and Mike Hatheway on bass is the lineup that will be able to take Sleepy Driver to the next level.

With flourishes of Hammond B3 organ and country twang guitar Steady Now has the feel of one of those great American albums that would sound great driving across the western plains in a beat up car. Peter Hicks tells [here] that this sound was something that came to the band in a very natural way. In fact, his musical past didn't actually touch on a lot of American roots music.

"Not at all." Hicks laughs. "That's the funny thing. I actually grew up listening to punk rock and so-called college rock back in the day. I really liked bands like the Pixies. I think the songs on the record have a bit of that college rock feel but the songs are what the songs are and they came about very naturally. You can decide what music you listen to but you can't decide what music you write."

Besides next Thursday's CD release at the James Joyce in Fredericton, Sleepy Driver has a few dates lined up for the summer. August 8 they'll play the annual Floodstock festival along the beautiful St. John River in Evandale and August 22 they're off to St. Andrews. Hicks will also play some solo acoustic shows. While the band is starting off slowly, they have goals (and the necessary talent) to make Sleepy Driver a much larger force on the region's music scene.

"We really do think that there is a lot of life to this band. We're going to start off locally and grow to a provincial and maritime wide presence. I really think we can grow our circle."

Given the strength of a debut disc that wasn't even supposed to happen, I wouldn't be surprised if that circle begins to grow sooner rather than later.

You can check in on Sleepy Driver online at There you'll find all of the links to their Facebook and MySpace pages as well as a link to buy the disc from Indie Pool or iTunes. - Nelson Hansen - HERE Weekly

"This stuff is from N.B.?"

Sleepy Driver is yet another "This stuff is from N.B.??" band. At some point in the early 2000s we saw a serious shift into a revival of folk and rootsy alt-everything. Sleepy Driver could fall into that broad range of categories, but unlike a lot of bands that go that route listening to their stuff just doesn't feel like work.

In fact, a few times I caught myself with Ring The Black Bell repeating into the double digits.

Some of their other tracks are bit calmer, but certainly as catchy, and given a few listens will probably find itself on repeat through your DSL line as should definitely get yourself acquainted with this band - pronto.

Check out their Myspace at: - Here-NB Magazine July 22/06

"Rise and shine: Sleepy Driver wins Rising Star award"

Chalk up another impressive achievement for local roots-rockers Sleepy Driver - winners of the 2009 Harvest Galaxie Rising Star award.

The band, which was competing against local reggae-rock band Weak Size Fish, the jazzy sounds of Becka deHaan and the Love Me Three Times Band, Quispamsis songstress Babette Hayward, and New Denmark guitar great Jens Jeppesen, claimed the honours at Dolan's Pub on Friday afternoon after a series of performances by the five nominees.

The winning band was selected through a process involving a panel of judges and a public voting.

Sleepy Driver accepted a cheque for $2,000 and all-access passes for the Harvest festival.

Peter Hicks, who sings and plays guitar with the group, said the band is excited about the honour.

"We've seen a lot of the artists that have come away from the Harvest Galaxie Rising Star program with success, like Keith Hallett or Ross Neilsen," he said.

"They're great artists and phenomenal musicians. Just to be held in the same regard as those guys is pretty special. I wasn't expecting this at all and we're a little dumbfounded."

Buzz about the band's debut album, Steady Now, has been spreading across Canada, making 2009 a big year for the local music veterans.

"We've gotten great reviews for the album, we've gotten some great radio play across the country and hit some charts and whatnot, and now this," said Hicks. "It's definitely more than we expected."

Music fans crowded into Dolan's Pub for the event, cheering loudly for each of the acts. Sleepy Driver guitarist Ethan Young-Lai said it was a great afternoon of music.

"It's an honour to be recognized by Harvest and we hope it leads to more opportunities with them in the future," he said.

"All the bands that played were great, and I don't really feel like anyone's the winner here. We're all benefiting from (the program)."

Sept. 21, 2009 - Canada East

""Steady Now" review by Paul Kerr, AmericanaUK"

It seems that nowadays a fair proportion of albums that arrive for review are Canadian in origin. Canadiana anyone? To be sure many of the touchstones in the alt country/Americana scene were Canadians, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Band, to name a few. More recently Blue Rodeo and Blacky and the Rodeo Kings would be the names most likely to pop up in conversation.
Well, here’s another band to talk about instead of the Mounties and Northern Exposure. Sleepy Driver are a band with a sound that is in the same vein as some of the eighties so called Paisley Underground crew. In particular there are moments that are very akin to the great Steve Wynn both in his Dream Syndicate days and more latterly from his “desert trilogy”.
With a big guitar sound, great dynamics and at times a great pop thrust, leader Peter Hicks hits on the darker side of life including a great murder ballad (Drowning In My Dreams). While able to utilise an acoustic base in songs such as “Where You Are” and “North Dakota” (where some pedal steel leavens the sound) it’s the surge of guitar and organ on “When the Lights Come On” and the chunky slice of a song that is “Architects” that standout. Opening song “Like a Weapon” should be a radio hit at least if there’s any justice. Best of all is “Watch You Sleep” which has a fantastic, trippy guitar outro which is reminiscent of the Rain Parade.
For a debut album this is very assured and very, very listenable. Have a peek here. - Blabber n' Smoke AmericanaUK

""Steady Now" review by Ian Fildes, AmericanaUK"

8 out of 10

Canadiana, with it’s muscles showing

Sleepy Driver, definitely not Minnie’s narcoleptic sister, are the brainchild of song writing talent Peter Hicks and hail from Canada. On the evidence of ‘Steady Now’ they have tough melodic Americana-Rock music all sussed and sewn up.

Opener ‘Like a Weapon’ has a lovely loud growling DBT’s rock swagger, packed tight with subdued drifting melody. It is followed swiftly by ‘Drowning in my Dreams’, an equally solid country rocking affair

High quality songs and performances get reeled off matter-of-factly with the tough guitars punching out distorted minor chords on 'When the Lights Come on', which is augmented with horns, whilst ‘North Dakota’ and ‘and the Gravedigger says…’ shows they can pull off harmony-infused folk and country of some distinction too. While ‘Scars’ should get them rightfully on indie radio playlists, sounding as it does a little like Lee Mavers fronting the Cardinals in something of a hurry.

The bragging and threats of the upbeat ‘Lazy Eye’ whose narrative drifter was “born with a lazy eye and a lazy heart to match it, made my way through the underground with a switchblade and a hatchet” concluding as those crunchy guitars come crashing that “all I want is your life”

Hicks is sometimes drowned a little in the mix, making his enticing tales of death love, rootless-ness, murder and regret a little difficult to grasp without paying close attention. He doesn’t possess the most intriguing or individual of vocals but it rarely detracts as Sleepy Driver have mixed up a heady concoction of Country, alt-rock and blues, with a refreshing dose of volume and rock dynamics that it’s hard not to feel benevolent towards.

With great songs deftly delivered, ‘Steady Now’ is a very strong, assured, and most importantly of all, enjoyable debut on all counts. - Americana UK


"Peter Hicks has a solid grasp on the turn of a phrase and lyrically he displays a knack that leaves most songwriters laying in his dusty wake."

--- "Uncle" Rob Pinnock, Radio Host, CFXY The Fox
- CFXY The Fox

""Steady Now" - A Brilliant Debut Album"

Sleepy Driver, led by front-man Peter Hicks, have released a brilliant debut album, "Steady Now", that reinforces the notion that much of the best American music comes from Canada. "Steady Now" is chock full of highly accessible, radio-friendly songs with beautiful melodies and irresistible hooks. The band's sound is guitar-driven, twangy roots pop that is edgier than, say, Blue Rodeo or the Bodeans, reminiscent of The Connells and like-minded bands from the golden age of college radio. There is something for everyone to like on this album, which easily fits on Americana, AAA and college radio playlists. Among many highlights is the leadoff track, "Like A Weapon", whose hook will most assuredly become lodged in your brain on the very first listen. Peter Hicks and Sleepy Driver have a most promising future. - Warren Catlett, Radio Free Americana

"Review: Sleepy Driver-Like A Weapon"

The latter day Byrds, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and folk heroes both new and old are felt in this great piece of music. You can hear the farm, the Roadhouse and the country flavour, all made more enduring by the faint memories of the Sunset Strip in the ‘60’s, P.F Sloan, David Crosby, and Jim McGuinn passing an acoustic guitar back and forth in the Ben Frank’s parking lot on a hot humid night in 1965 Hollywood. - Bob Segarini -


"In A Low Dark Light" (2012) album. 11 tracks

"Steady Now" Expanded Edition (2011) album. 17 tracks.

"Steady Now" (2009) album. 13 tracks.

Music & Image - Take 6 compilation "And The Gravedigger Says" (2010 - Warner Music Canada & AFF)

Canadian Music - East Coast Rock Style vol 3 "Like A Weapon" (2011 - East Coast Music Association)



Winner of the 2012 Music NB Rock Recording of the Year Award.

"In A Low Dark Light", the followup to their critically-acclaimed "Steady Now", was released June 19, 2012.

Winner of the 2009 CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award (Harvest J&B Festival)

Nominated for a 2011 ECMA: Vibe Group Single of the Year for "Like a Weapon"

#23 on the Euro Americana Chart (April 2010); #17 in February 2010

#35 on US Roots Radio chart - Canadian Artists ( April 2010

Top 100 Americana Music Charts May 2010

Nominated for three MusicNB 2010 Awards: Rock Recording, SOCAN Songwriter, and Video

Nominated for Alternative Recording of the Year and Rising Star Recording of the Year for the 2010 East Coast Music Awards

SLEEPY DRIVER is pleased to announce the release of their new album "In a Low Dark Light" on June 19, 2012. The new album from Canada's Sleepy Driver is the much-anticipated follow-up to their acclaimed debut, "Steady Now".

Over the past three years, the band has amassed an impressive string of achievements that include appearances on Canadian, US and European music charts, multiple East Coast Music Award nominations (Rising Star Recording of the Year, Single of the Year, and Alternative Album of the Year), winning CBC Galaxie's Rising Star award, and notable performances at music festivals throughout Eastern Canada.

The album's eleven tracks showcase front-man Peter Hicks' songwriting and sees the band delve further into the alt-roots territory explored on 2009's Steady Now, yet broadens their palette with more color, more darkness, more light. From the dark tale of bittersweet revenge of He Said Her Name, to the feel-good roots rock of Baby Don't, the band weaves their traditional Americana and college-rock influences to create an intriguing back-drop for Hicks' compositions.

- “Steady Now” (2009) released July 2009
- 2009 CBC Galaxie Rising Star Winner (September 2009 Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival)
- First two singles reach Top 50 on Canada's Active Rock Charts - “And The Gravedigger Says” - #42 Aug 2009, "Like A Weapon"- #44 Jan 2010.
- Single “And The Gravedigger Says” reaches #1 on the East Coast Countdown ( (September 2009)
- Single “Like a Weapon” focus track on CBC Radio 2 National (Radio 2 Morning, Shift, and Drive) (September and October 2009)
- Single “Like a Weapon” charted at #1 on the East Coast Countdown (January 2010); Single "Architects" reaches #1 on ECC in June 2010

Rich Terfry (Buck 65):
Host of Radio 2 Drive on CBC Radio2; Musician
"These guys are so good they're dangerous."

Bob Mersereau:
CBC journalist, author of the book "The Top 100 Canadian Albums"
"This is a sound that has a lot of maturity to it... bridging the gap between adult and college-alternative energy... [Steady Now] deserves a lot of attention."