SIC ALPS: Napa Asylum: CD

Mar 07, 2011

I’d never heard Sic Alps before, but apparently they’ve done some semi extensive touring and have a couple full lengths under their belt already. However, since I was completely unaware of them until now, I don’t have a good point of reference for this record. The music is kind of a sleepy take on ‘60s pop and garage. The guitars are distorted but there isn’t anything loud about the album except in a couple short bursts at the end. All the instruments are panned out to the extremes in either channel, making good use of the negative space in the stereo range. Since each song lacks consistency in where those instruments wind up, the album has a very intimate and live feel, like the members of the band are moving around a practice space and putting together the songs in front of the listener rather than presenting something fully formed and executed to a paying audience, which works in the band’s favor. The vocal melodies, which borrow a lot from doo wop and—more than just a little—the more subdued numbers in the Led Zeppelin catalog—are the focal point of the material, presenting catchy melodies that don’t trap themselves in repetition or hooks. Fans of Elliot Smith or similar styles should dig this a lot.

 –Ian Wise (Drag City)