The phrase “actor/actress-turned-singer” is likely to strike fear into the hearts of any music fan with a sense of history when it comes to that career choice. The only phrase that could top it is “model-turned-singer,” but Carmen Villain used to be known as Carmen Hillestad, a model whose face you probably saw all the time on magazine covers without ever putting a name to it, so it’s a big surprise that Sleeper, Hillestad’s debut album under the Carmen Villain moniker, defies any preconceptions you might have. The evidence here is that she is in fact a proper musician who happened to fall into modeling, rather than the other way ’round.


Sleeper is due for release next week (March 12th) through Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound, and it is the sound of someone who has a real grasp of lo-fi rock dynamics, the likes of which Sonic Youth used to make a killing with. Hillestad also shares that group’s ability to switch between bursts of dissonance and discomfort, and she injects Sleeper with a real melodic sweetness that makes the album an agile and unpredictable listen. As a multi-instrumentalist, she did most of the work herself, and the result is an album with a singular vision and plenty of substance. Check out the video for lead single “Lifeissin” below:

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Carmen Villain