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Sic Alps Recycles at the Turf Club – October 17, 2012

30 Oct

By: Rob Frost

So, it’s that time of the year again. The leaves are beginning to fall and the wind is becoming frigid. The people of the Twin Cities know that their beloved city will soon be covered in a light, colorless frost.  As bands slowly begin to hibernate in their studio caves, fans are frantically collecting and scavenging for one more good show. As for me, I was fortunate enough to see an entertaining show at the Turf Club before that white quilt is placed over the Cities.

Ever hear of Sic Alps?  If you answered “no,” then you would be right where I was. Being a relatively curious guy, I decided to investigate even thought the name alone made me thing of dying on a mountain top. If you answered “yes,” then you would surely be aware that they are on tour promoting their new self-titled album, which came out September 18th. For those of us who are new to the band, there’s a lot of history to catch up on.  Hailing from the great state of California, Sic Alps was formed in the early 2000s by Matt Hartman and Mike Donovan. Releasing records, EPs, and singles under the labels Animal Disguise, Siltbreeze, Woodsist, Folding, and Drag City (to name a few) they’ve built a wide collection of material to play.  More recently, they played with Magik Markers, Times New Viking, Sonic Youth, and was a part of the highly popular Pavement-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival.

The best way to describe Sic Alps is to reincarnate the dead members of the Beatles and Velvet Underground and get them to play together in the same room.  Indie rock has never tasted so sweet – yet a bitterness lingers in my mouth.  Though I love what this band along with other contributors to this genre such as Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear, and Dr. Dog have done, where does it go from here?  I suppose you could argue that much of the 60s throw back sound is what pushes modern Indie music forward.  As I watched Sic Alps I was reminded that music is cyclical, repetitive, and sometimes just a mimic of something else.

You may think that my thoughts are harsh and maybe even a little offensive, but I challenge you to rethink what you listen to and why you listen to it.  As a fellow musician and music enthusiast I struggle everyday with the music I listen to and personally write.  Some days I feel as if I’m just another vessel in a sea of similarity, but a refreshing look on music is hopefully underway.  Somewhere, someone has to be creating a sound so fresh that it will change the world forever – just as so many before us did.

If you have read this far you may find my opinion highly negative towards the bands I’ve mentioned above. I have nothing against any of them, in fact, many of my favorite groups are “copy-cats”.  I just think it is important for any artist to question the boundaries they put up for themselves and reevaluate the reason why they create.  That being said, I also thing it is important for an audience to give new creation a chance to change what is acceptable and worthy of consumption.

Don’t get me wrong Sic Alps played one kick-ass show  I just feel that it was nothing earth shattering and/or life changing.  It was a typical rock show with an out-of-town feel. For what Sic Alps does, there are few that match technical tightness. The tones coming from the drums and bass were immaculate and the lead singer’s Fender Telecaster was modified to perfection.

On the hand, the opener, the highly experimental Kayo dot-esk local band, The Miami Dolphins (no relationship to the football team, believe me) are exactly what I am talking about in regards to something different. It’s hard to explain a sound which is so terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time that it entices you to listen to the next bone-chilling song.  As the lead singer, a beautiful women that dresses as a 1950s school girl, approaches you with a seductive look in her eyes (she had a 50 foot mic cable and the band played on the floor not the stage so she kept getting in people faces) she yelps to dissonant chords and stop-time rhythms.  There were chords I heard that night that I’ve never heard, and rhythms that shouldn’t make sense.  That’s the thing though, music shouldn’t be something you analyze so much.  It should be a constant enigma, crashing into our imagination and questioning our existence. Sadly, this band would never be accepted vastly enough to become the next big sound because of the boundaries that society has put up. Give them a listen though to prove me wrong.

Overall, it was a night of good music, questioning and soul searching.  Though Sic Alps won’t be changing the world with their music, it was still entertaining and a good experience.  Not all music can stand the test of time – nor should it.  I’m just waiting for something that sounds so new that it causes a social uprising and this experience just made me want it more than ever.

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