Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AFS v 286 ~ Message from the Asylum

This week in AFS...

* live-at-KDVS session by Sex Church!
* sneak-peekin' the forthcoming Sic Alps 2xLP!
* a grippa new Troubled in Mind melodic brainworms!
* the latest guitar-slaying of Grady Runyan (ex-Monoshock/Liquorball)!

Download this program within two months at this link...
CLICK HERE for 192kbps rate.
CLICK HERE for 320kbps rate.
, if you have a slower/20th century connection
STREAM IT HERE by next Monday night!

(Email me with any downloading problem questions...)

THE FALL | The Container Drivers | Grotesque (After the Gramme) | Rough Trade 1980
SAVAGE REPUBLIC | Viva la Rock n Roll [ATV] | ΝHΠIAΓΩΓEION - Live In Europe 1988 | Fundamental 1990
PARTY BOYS | Ode on a Grecian Urn | No Aggro | Independent Project 1981
ALARMIST | It's Halloween [the Shaggs] | Under the Covers CS | Public Secret Media 2004
ALARMIST | Ignition | Evil Works Get Rich or Try Dying Evil Works | Frenetic 2004
CRABE | Pénis-Céline | Ero Gaki | Signed by Force *new
DE KIFT | Vlijt/Staal op Staal | Yverzucht | Konkurrel 1989
BPEOPLE | Can Can't | self-titled | Faulty Products 1981
THE DEADBEATS | Brainless | Kill the Hippies 7" | Dangerhouse 1978
ROY WOOD'S WIZZARD | Eddy's Rock | Introducing Eddy & the Falcons | United Artists 1974
WOUNDED LION | Pointed Sticks | Pointed Sticks 7" | Trouble in Mind *new
THE WRONG WORDS | What Went Wrong? | What Went Wrong? 7" | Trouble in Mind *new
THE LIMIÑANAS | Mountain | self-titled | Trouble in Mind *new
NICE SMILE | Building | Building 7" | South Director Street *new
RED MASS | Nightcrawlers | self-titled | Florida's Dying *new
~~~~~~ live in Studio A, Oct 20, 2010 ~~~~~~~
SEX CHURCH | Not Anymore
SEX CHURCH | Old Enough
SEX CHURCH | Paralyze
SEX CHURCH | Mistaken
SIC ALPS | Trip Train | Napa Asylum 2xLP | Drag City *forthcoming
SIC ALPS | The First White Man to Touch California Soil
THE BAD TRIPS | End of War | Open | Rocketship *new
INTERNATIONAL HELLO | Someone's Coming | self-titled | Holy Mountain *new
ART LESSING | Weirdest Places | Lectures 2xLP | KDVS Recordings *new
SUN CITY GIRLS | The Imam | Funeral Mariachi | Abduction *new
PHANTOM PAYN DAYS | Art is Dead | self-titled | De Stijl *new
SAMUEL LOCKE WARD | Church of the Bloated Man | Barely Regal Beagles | no label *new

Due early 2011 from Drag City, the Sic Alps' Napa Asylum will surely please fans and win some more! Tonight, I give you a couple of the fuzziest blasts from the double-LP, but you can also expect to hear the band--now a trio--meander through folk and damaged pop, usually with ease, sometimes with difficulty, but always bearing rewards for the indepth listener. Next week I'll dish you some of the woozier brilliance on these four sides of impending indulgence. My advance CDR was enclosed with a one-sheet which says...

The new SIC ALPS record is "NAPA ASYLUM."

A Brief History of Sic Alps Time:

Matt and Mike met on a boat in NYC in 1996, playing with their bands, Henry's Dress and The Ropers.

Mike started Sic Alps with Adam Stonehouse of The Hospitals in 2004. Matt joined in 2005, stepping in to mix and basically realize the first LP "Pleasures and Treasures."

Noel Von Harmonson joined in 2009. You know - Noel, of Comets on Fire! Noel plays guitars, drums and all kinds of randomness on "Napa Asylum."

Sic Alps always record themselves in the basement. Mike always brings in the song with lyrics and it gets built track by track on an 8 track. A recent exception to the rule is "My My Lai" on "Napa Asylum," written and recorded by Matt. But back to the rule: Matt is always the "engineer" and often the arranger and concept master. The set-up is very minimal - delay pedal, reverb tank, two microphones, $100 preamp and Tascam 8. This has been this way for all the recordings.

2.5 years between records! Where were they? Comp tracks aside, only the Slumberland 7" "L Mansion" and the Magic Markers split (Yik Yak) were released since "U.S. EZ" came out in July of 2008. Sic Alps were releasing a lot of music in the years 2006-2008 and "Napa Asylum" represents for the years when they slowed way down and took a minute to reflect.

Themes of the "Napa Asylum" record include re-incarnation, magic and schizophrenia. Some of the more adventurous writing on the record lyrically speaking: "The First White Man to Touch California" attempts to tie the "discovery" of California to the recent mortgage crisis. "Zeppo Epp" tells parallel tales of leaving a Midwestern home: Zeppo Eppley drives off to never be heard from again while Charlotte Muldeen breaks up with her girlfriend and joins the Navy.

The songs are a fresh assortment of Sic pleasures, echoing half-emptily as the hooks slide into your flesh, animating you in marionette-style to tip-tap your way across the dance-floor. Get your steps in while you can, the songs are as short as they are bitter-sweet. But the one that ends just makes way for the one coming next...

I liked Napa Asylum immediately, but it took a couple more listens to really get under my skin, and now I enjoy it at least as much as the masterful Description of the Harbor which made it onto the short version of my best-of-2008 LPs list. Yes, it's another masterpiece. I'd described Description as the perfect music for a summer heatwave when the A/C's busted and you can only lay on the floor and watch the ceiling fan spin. I actually did this once, and the more warped elliptical Alps riffs made me trip out on how my ceiling fan kinda rocks a little bit on its base so that the fan blades sorta smear into an oval. Napa Asylum's gonna trip me out like that, but even more.

Napa Asylum is great listening on a high-desert drive. The miles from Weed, California, to Tulelake via U.S. 97 north past Dorris and east on CA Hwy 161 blew by almost too quickly with a sage-scented breeze, even as my windshield got smeared with guts of tiny flies as the route cut across Lower Klamath Lake. The peak of Mt. Shasta dominates the view throughout this drive like the shamanistic vibe of Mike Donovan, smiling and shoeless on stage. I become aware of the ice of Shasta's glaciers scouring the mountain whenever Matt Hartman's nervous energy manifests in a sudden jittery drum fill or shrill feedback squall. (Or maybe it's the Modoc warrior spirit!) It all comes together as a soundscape as massive as the northern Siskiyou landscape. Shasta is always there past the horizon, tantalizingly near even as those nearer horizons keep unfolding every mile or two across this unique microcosm of the basin-and-range formations of the inter-mountain West. It's the perfect place for a psychedelic experience, such as listening to Napa Asylum. I still hope to take one more trip up that way before winter takes hold, and then I'll figure out what's Noel's northern Siskiyou metaphor. Maybe it's the way that the land up there's so surprisingly adaptable. Just like adding water to the mineral-rich soil replaces a valley full of bunchgrass and sagebrush with a green carpet of alfalfa sprouts across the southern half of Butte Valley, adding Noel to the Sic Alps equation has produced an outstanding result. From seeing the band live four times this year with Noel, I sense that he's added a steadying effect. The rhythms are more permanent on Napa Asylum, riffs heavier and more impactful. Yet the Cali vibe is still so enduring...on this album, just as it is mere miles from the Oregon border where--amidst secessionist Jefferson-state rednecks--there are hippies stroking crystals aimed at Shasta vortexes, and the sun still shines through about 80% of the time year-round.

If you wanna plan a vacation with this album, hit me up....I'll tell you where to stay and eat up there. Keep in mind the 2nd weekend of October is when the town of Merrill, just across the border in Oregon, hosts their annual potato festival. I already bought a 2011 calendar and circled the dates. You should circle January 25, 2011....that's the date that Napa Asylum hits the street.


pj said...

I seriously want to go there with this album when it comes out now!

pj said...

o, btw...happy birthday

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