Monday, 10 January 2011

Sic Alps – Napa Asylum (Drag City)

After Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dig! and everyone thinking ‘That was totally relevant and changed the face of re-hashed sixties garage pop forever!’, I’m sure music fans wondered if we’d be spared anymore lo-fi whiney hipster indie posing as something far more interesting. Then the Black Keys happened and managed to fool people into thinking it was possible to release a record which evoked old time rock and roll whilst being vital in the new millennia. Sic Alps are not the Black Keys. They have, since their rise to (somewhat) fame in 2009 been making waves in circles of people who wear skin tight flares and read Shindig/ smoke crack and pretend not to read Vice. But outside of revivalists and trend seekers, I can’t see TWENTY-TWO track album Napa Asylum making any waves. It is indulgent, pretentious, ridiculously, needlessly, long, and sounds like a slightly less-good version of any number of other things: Ariel Pink if they were less weird and fun, Thee Oh Sees if they weren’t Pink and Brown with a fuzzy sixties vibe...

If this album was ten tracks long, I might have found myself wanting to give it a little more credit. On Trip Train they manage to jam themselves into a noise band, and for a couple of minutes Napa Asylum gets fun. The general dirge of the album peaks in a few other places including airy summertime pop hits Cement Surfboard and Ball of Fame. Meter Man is Beatles-style nonsensical psych-rock that Las and Dums its way into your heart momentarily, and Occult Display has a rich authenticity the rest of the album seems to fall short of. But these are lost amongst the tirade of pastiche you have to wade through like lumpy custard that’s been lying around since 1966. Final track Nathan Livingston Maddox was my favourite, but that might have been purely because I’d had to sit through twenty-one other tracks of ‘so fucking fragile and indie my voice might crack in a minute’ vocals and the last track was a sweet release similar to the end of a school day, or trip to Dignitas. If you have got this far and are still intrigued to hear Napa Asylum, why not try their 2008 release U.S. EZ first, it is a more concise, enjoyable, and fundamentally shorter release.

Words : Maya Boustany

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