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Sic Alps: U.S. EZ

Sic Alps: U.S. EZ

Release Date:2008

By Mike McGonigal | Posted 9/10/2008

The Bay Area-based duo Sic Alps sounds absolutely loaded, in the Easy Rider sense, on distortion and bravado on their fourth full-length--and first for Siltbreeze--U.S. EZ. There's a sweet irony in the fact that the group has recorded its most highfalutin-sounding music yet for the label most associated with the "no-fi" aesthetic.

The album is phenomenal, and makes up for the fact that a collaboration between Guided by Voices in its prime and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) was never possible. In lesser hands, this work by singer/guitarist Mike Donovan and drummer/singer/bassist Matt Hartman would be yet another scrumbly Royal Trux fetishization. Trux comparisons are as hard to avoid as the GBV one, as the heavily echoed vocals shift from a more laid-back approximation of Neil Haggerty's stoned bark ("Massive Place") to a more uptight take on Skip Spence's stoned growl ("Gelly Roll Gum Drop").

U.S. EZ may be vaguely experimental, and is psychedelic to its core, but the songs all are wonderful songs. The album sounds held together by Scotch tape; songs stop and start at whim, and it's hard to know what's going to come next. But the melodies stick in your head for hours; these groovy bits may burst forth from the chaos just once or twice, but that's more than enough to cause emotional damage. This is probably one of the best rock 'n' roll records of the year, and it kind of sounds like a jumbled mess.

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