With the screech of feedback still ringing in our ears from the career spanning A Long Way Round To A Shortcut, comes this LA dude's first proper full length album. Since their DIY conception, Mike Donovan and Matthew Hartman have been slowly evolving their sound from the bandsaw-like noise of the early singles to the more song orientated blues-fuzz that we heard at the beginning of Long Way Round. U.S. EZ takes the whole gamete of that retrospective and with it we find a band more fully formed than ever and yet unmistakably gritty.
If you mistook that intro to mean that Sic Alps now make nice-and-easy-to-listen-to songs then keep an eye on your graphic equalizer and you'll see that it takes less than thirty seconds for opener Massive Place to hit the red line. Massive Place embodies this entire album as it is split into three definable sections, the first being Donovan's fuzz soaked vocals oozing out, thick as molasses and amid deep puddles of feedback. This tapers off unexpectedly and then resumes a moment later but now joined by what sounds like 20 drums. The third part is introduced towards the end of the song and is allowed roughly 5 seconds to get going before time is called on the whole thing. So in one song we have the near indecipherable and distant vocals together with the much matured and instantly impressive rhythm section which is all thrown left of center by the unpredictable song structure.
Even subjecting this record to this kind of scrutiny seems to miss the point. This band seem to pay little attention to things like structure or form and as a result have crafted a piece of work that flows freely though often on rocky ground. Songs like Put The Puss To Bed, with it's totally abstract nature, dovetail perfectly with a song like Bathman that, amid the wooly noise that surrounds it, sounds like a long lost Kinks demo recorded in an empty warehouse. Much is asked of the listener here, but never so much as the twinning of N##jj and its polar opposite Gelly Roll Gum Drop. N##jj takes all the noise from the early work and shits on it from a high height. It is 1:20 minutes of what sounds like a high speed pile-up involving a dozen 125cc motorbikes and 50 articulated lorries all carrying drum kits. It's a headache to say the least but what emerges is even more unexpected. Gelly Roll Gum Drop is one of the most conventional songs this band have made and plays heavily on their love of old rock n' roll and blues rhythms. Take all this and filter it through the lo-fi DIY filter and you've got a foot-tapping, scuzz dripping masterpiece.
U.S. EZ is the sound of a band emerging from its bare-bones beginnings into the big, wide world. It does this armed with all the tools that made people take notice in the first place, grit, freedom, non-conformity and energy and with all this firmly under their belt Sic Alps seem to march onwards into a new dawn and with a confidence that is a sight to behold.
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A Long Way Round To A Shortcut
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