Napa Asylum by Sic Alps
Sic Alps’ latest album, “Napa Asylum” brings us 22 fairly sloppy/gritty light hearted garage pop tracks. First off, let me just say that 22 songs is a lot of songs, even if quite a few of them hover right around or just below the 2 minute mark. It’s still gonna take most people a lot of discipline to make it through all of “Napa Asylum” in one sitting.
The first thing you notice about “Napa Asylum” is that it seems to be a shockingly lo-fi production. The type of thing that makes early “Beat Happening” stuff seem like “Atlantic Records” material. Also, most of the tracks are slathered in a reverb effect which probably gives the album that aged or gritty feel. In addition to the recording techniques, you get the feeling that the band has a certain level of indifference to delivering ‘crisply’ played music on this album. Sometimes that adds a little easy going drunken charm to a song, as is the case in “cement surfboard”, my favorite track on “Napa Asylum”. The song has a timeless surf rock sound that’s hard not to like and holds up really well to the whole amateur feel of the album. However, at times with other songs you just get worn down by the band stumbling through track after track without seemingly giving a shit.
In general I think the album is at it’s best when the songs are kept short and have certain sing-songy quality to them, like in “Ball of Fame” or “Low Kid”. But the album struggles when the whole reverby slacker vibe gets in the way of being playful and catchy.
Napa Asylum: 2.5 out of 5