Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sic Alps 'L Mansion' on Slumberland

When I heard about this Slumberland single from Sic Alps, and I saw it at Academy, I picked it up. I've been trying to figure them out for a while...some of the early youtube videos I first saw were black and white garage, super noise, a little wall of sound-y, I was into the duo sound, two guys lots of noise, sometimes catchy, messy, energetic. The single Semi-Streets just cemented it, The almost drone distorted guitar, playing slow almost behind the percussion time, buried distortion's such a great song. How did they get a glimmer of a melody out of the layers of crackle, it didn't make sense. Then Strawberry Guillotine seemed to get slower and heavier, but to tell you the truth I can't think of anything off the full length US EZ on siltbreeze...I have to give that another go, because I heard so much promise in Semi-Streets, I love that single.

This single, "L Mansion" on SLR has this great sleeve with a million black and white pictures of mansions on the cover, you can barely catch the title in light pink floating around the excess. Then I'm reading that Ty Segall is part of the Alps!??? How many bands can one many singles???...I guess we'll find out. Supposedly he's playing on this, I didn't hear the influence right away on L Mansion. This is a slower acoustic number driven by the strum folk rhythm. It's kind of dorky 50's 60's with flat distortion vocals and reverbed harmonies. I guess I could see Ty playing the electric that finds its way in here and there, to add to that poppy melody.
Is that a washboard? Oh yea. A lonely electric piano vibe slides in for a solo at the end and I'm pretty baffled...that's nearly something I would expect from the Vivian Girls/hazy/shoegaze scene...weird.

The B-Side 'Superlungs my Supergirl' is a Donovan cover...but isn't Mike Donovan in the Alps? They are worse than area 51.
This one is back to the dirty pounding Alps I've been waiting for. They get great sound in the drums, I swear they are recorded separately, the kick is mic'ed differently or something...jesus, I know all these instruments, but they are really pushing some ideas about sound around here. I don't know this song, but it can stand on it's own. The vocals are layered, really clear and peaking. Crazy electric whines, a huge bass rumble from a mic behind a mattress...but all carefully layered, each sound was picked out, processed differently and thrown back's a damn good one and continues to baffle. They might be even more interesting because I never know where they're going, and when they hit it for me, it's dead on..but I might get sick of song after song of semi-streets, so they're doing me a favor really.

They are all overseas this month, then come back to the West Coast for Dec...nothing my way for a while it seems, still haven't caught these guys...New Years resolution: see Sic Alps this year.

Also if you're interested I heard on All Things Considered yesterday this interview with Merge Records, when they started talking about their early singles, it was like NPR knew I would donate if they showed they shared my love of singles. Weird.

Sic Alps available on pink vinyl from Slumberland.
They have so many other singles that just came out, I'm never going to keep up.
Are they going to get a singles club already?
Check out their shop, bunch of new ones...sorry NPR, my support goes to SLR.

Sic Alps make music with their eyes on the past but their feet firmly in the present. Bits of psychedelia, folk, garage, punk and other fuh fairly well flow from their fingers, seamlessly worked together to render easy categorizations pointless. Over the course of numerous singles and albums on such fine labels as Siltbreeze, Mt St Mtn and Woodsist, Sic Alps' Mike Donovan and Matt Hartman have carved themselves a snug niche filled with fuzz, crackle, vibes and most of all cracking tunes. Now they're joined by kindred spirit Ty Segall, and the dynamic duo has become a true power trio.

Their first release as a three-piece is L. Mansion, a swinging little folk/beat tune that is totally timeless/out of time in the way of Sic Alps' best songs. As straightforwardly "pop" as anything they've done, and a totally effective summertime single. On the flip we get a banging cover of Donovan's ode to puff -- "Superlungs." Wild and thumping, Matt and Mike have definitely taken the Sunshine Superman on a little side trip to Detroit rock city. Two great sides of Sic Alps then, and another genre-busting addition to their excellent discography. - Slumberland

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