Most people with whom I regularly covort with, or at least used to when I lived in the US, are probably tired of hearing me harp on this band, but for the few people who read this blog who I haven't hipped, here we go: Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite touring bands, the Sic Alps.
I first heard about these guys about a year ago from Scott over at Exiled Records (If you live in Portland please patronize these guys as much as possible they have THE best collection of psychedelic and lo fi music as well as super selective jazz, garage, international, and experimental music... Shit, fuck putting a title on it, they just have really great music and are always happy to hip you to some reighteous music). He told me that the Sic Alps were a pretty small outfit from SF, a duo comprised of drummer Matt Hartman (Who briefly played with the Coachwhips) and singer/guitar Mike Donovan , that put out a series of small run 7'' and 12'' records. I picked up one of the last copies he had of the "Rough Trade in Soft Form" and was immediately blown away. The two stand out songs on that EP for me were "Speeds" and "Microcastles," A pair of rollicking, unpolished rock anthems that are equal parts noise explosion and boozy garage rock that leave you with the feeling that your ears have just date raped. .
Ed. Note: This is the first time I have attempted to put song downloads/links onto this page... All you're supposed to do is cut and paste the link into your browser and then wait something like 15 seconds. You will then see a prompt to type in some coded letters and you should be able to download the song free and fast. I know it's a bit of a convoluted process, so if you know of a more user friendly way to link up songs, please let me know.
I immediately set out on the single minded mission of acquiring everything of theirs that I possibly could. Unfortunately, I found that all of their previous EP's were out of print and the few that were available on EBAY were floating at about 80-120 bucks for a 12''. Yahtzee.
Anyhow, lucky for you and I they have since rereleased all of their previous out of print ep's on a cd put out by Animal Disguise Records, which if it is not already sold out (I think they only printed 1000 of them) I'm sure is floating around somewhere on the internet in digital form. This rosetta stone of the Sic Alps discography is titled "A long way around to a Shortcut. Please try to buy it if you can, these guys definitely deserve your money.
Other release on the old CD format include their first full length album "Pleasures and Treasures," Which although is probably my least favorite of their releases, is still a gem in it's own right. The album is incredibly low fi, sounding as if most of it was recorded in a refridgerator at the bottom of crater lake, but still manages to be compelling, stradeling a fine line between noise art cacophany and a beautfiul, albeit damaged tribute to the traditional song format. My three favorites are probably the most traditional tracks on the album: "I Know Where Madness Goes," "Semi-Streets" and "Surgeon and the Slave." All of these songs, despite their unpolished recording quality, will be vying for heavy rotation in the revolving door of your minds ear. I have not included a track of Semi-Streets because you can just dig that in the music video section below.
http://www.easy-share.com/1903432066/03 I Know Where Madness Goes.m4ahttp://www.easy-share.com/1903432081/08 Surgeon and the Slave.m4a
The bands most recent release is on one of my favorite record labels, the small press Siltbreeze Records out of Philladelphia, run by bastion of relevant recording artist, Tom Lax (check out his musical musings at www.siltblog.blogspot.com). This record label has put out some of the best records of the last two years by artist such as Eat Skull, U.S. Girls, Little Klaw, Times New Viking, Fabulous Diamonds, Naked on the Vague, Pink Reason....shit, the list goes on. Basically if these guys are putting out a record, an immediate red flag should pop off in your head: Buy this. But I digress. U.S. Ez is without question the most accessible album by the Sic Alps, opting for a more melodic, ethereal, and dare I say soft approach to their songs. I found the album to be a bit pedestrian on my first lesson, but have found it to be a real grower. With every listen I find myself liking the beautiful, understated songs a little more. They seem to resonate more and more, but resist drowning in the inevitable boredom of comfort. It's just absolutely swell, a real swell album.
I'm just going to post one of these gems because I really want you guys to go out and buy this album if you don't already have it. This song is my favorite, but the whole album is a roster filled with winners.
http://www.easy-share.com/1903432190/03 Sing Song Waitress.m4a
Most of these video's are available in high quality... I suggest you watch them that way.
Ummm. Bikini clad Babes cutting off a Long Hair's leg with a hack saw in front of an industrial porcelin background... yeah, that's pretty hard to fuck with.
Bells (w/Tremolo and Distortion)
A long Way Around a Short Cut (Originally released on the Description of a Harbor ep, 2007)
Many of their video's feature amazing animation/video collage. This is one of the finer examples for sure. Just the best images, patterns, and colors. Whoa.
Pleasures and Treasures
Animal Disguise Recordings
And the award for both the best use of Maps and Kareoke Lyrics in a music video for the year forever goes to...
Freedom well explained.
A Story Over There
A Long Way to a Short Cut (Originally on Description of a Harbor, 2007)
Animal Disguise Recordings
Sweet Stop Motion Animation
A long Way to a Shortcut (Originally on The Soft Tour in Rough Form 12'', 2006)
Animal Disguise Recordings
An absurdist dramatization of the song. Brilliant
This fellow is Ty Segall, formerly of the southern california garage rock outfit Epsilons. While upon cursory examination it seems that I am not a huge fan of his former work with the Epsilons, as they were a bit to power pop/garage for my taste (yet still pretty good), his recent solo work is promising. He just put out a self titled album on Tom Dwyer's (From the Coachwhips and the Oh Sees) record label and is going to be the envy of every garage rock outfit west of the old miss. This guy seems to be poised for Jay Reatard like popularity and it wouldn't surprise me if he is next latest rage among garage affcionados. Don't quite know what his record status is as his myspace page says he is playing the Goner Records showcase, but he seems to be in that same vain. I haven't heard his complete album, but from the tracks I heard of of his myspace page he has plenty of distorted, fucked out garage ditties with infectious tracks that leave their mark. Check him out and let me know what you think.
For you readers lucky enough to live in the fair city of Portland, Ty Segall is set to play to Slabtown Bender. He is slotted to play the daytime show on the 7th although I'm really not quite sure what time that translates to. If you see this guy give me the low down and dirty business.
Here he is playing a rare three person set with the Sic Alps. Dude, certainly seems to be keeping beneficial company.
I know this things is rife with typos, I promise to clean it up a bit soon. Also, look for new Shame threshold additions such as an Email account for feedback from those of you who don't have a blogspot account and hopefully more music downloads/mix tapes. xoxo