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Album Review

Noisily experimental San Francisco duo Sic Alps graduate to the comparatively mainstream Siltbreeze label for their fifth album, and the album title is not as ironic as those who have heard its predecessors might think: it's not exactly easy listening, but this is by some distance the most immediately accessible album Sic Alps have so far released. There are still a few blurts of aimless, skronky noise ("N# #JJ" is a duet for random drumkit and amplifier abuse, and "Bric Jaz (Reprise)" is merely 13 seconds' worth of backwards tape), but otherwise, almost all of these 14 songs have actual musical structure. "Mater" and "Inventing a Common Rule" even have harmony vocals, and they're in tune yet! The familiar cracker-box production and hissy lo-fi sound are still in place, but underneath that, U.S. EZ has moments of actual pop suss, such as the tense, whispered closer "Quai des Orfevres," the hazy folk-rock of "Sing Song Waitress," and the good-natured choogle of "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" (not the Zappa tune). Another album or so on this level and Sic Alps will be primed for a breakthrough à la Guided by Voices circa Propeller.


Formed: 2006 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Beginning as a messy, gritty indie rock affair rooted in noise pop and the Velvet Underground's seminal soporific lo-fi, Sic Alps formed in the early 2000s as a collaboration between Matt Hartman (formerly of Henry's Dress) and Mike Donovan (formerly of the Ropers); the two met in the late '90s while on tour with their respective bands. Starting with Semi-Streets, their cassette-only debut single released on Folding in the fall of 2004, Sic Alps released a little over half a dozen singles over the...
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U.S. EZ, Sic Alps
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