Music

Sic Alps: U.S. EZ

Even though the band sullies their instruments with fuzzy-psych flavors it’s the tight-knit vocal harmonies that make Sic Alps both palatable and reminiscent of the glory days of '60s psych-folk.


Sic Alps

U.S. EZ

Label: Siltbreeze
UK Release Date: 2008-07-15
US Release Date: 2008-07-24
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

True to their throwback ‘60s sound San Francisco duo Sic Alps have been releasing music on cassette tapes and 7-inches through the label Animal Disguise for the past couple of years. And although their recent full-length, U.S. EZ, is available in the more modern format of compact disc the group still wallows in similiar territory, this time with the Philly-based label Siltbreeze, the same dude who brought us Eat Skull, Times New Viking, and Psychedelic Horseshit.

Although music writers must shy away from the industry's new four-letter-word, "lo-fi", Sic Alps use a stripped-down approach normally attributed to said term. Their drums are coated with distortion and their dual vocals emerge through a cloud of hissing four-track fuzz. Even though the band sullies their instruments with fuzzy-psych flavors it’s the tight-knit vocal harmonies that make Sic Alps both palatable and reminiscent of the glory days of '60s psych-folk.

On U.S. EZ Matt Hartman and Mike Donovan give us a moderately healthy dose of their hazy psych-folk sound. They ratchet up their jangly distortion with the delicious riffage of “Bathman”, "Mater", and opener "Massive Place", where Hartman's drums sound like they just fell out of a closet. But it’s when they turns the knobs down a bit that the duo’s latent harmonies emerge more clearly. “Gelly Roll Gumdrop”, Everywhere, There”, and "Sing Song Waitress" are lazy and mellowed out, with ghostly harmonies that echo and reverberate like old-school analog.

U.S. EZ should garner enough attention so that Sic Alps won’t be releasing music on casette tapes again. But the band probably prefers the grooves and scratches of a wax record, sounding like they emerged from a dusty old milk crate.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image