When the Hospitals released ?I?ve Visited the Island of Jock and Jazz,? the few critics who did pen about the release were polarized between ?refreshing direction in noise rock? and ?incomprehensible mess.? Standing over that critical chasm is damn near impossible, so which is it? I must say, I?ve leapt into bed with the former.
The Hospitals didn?t part ways, but the members have been riding the scene ferris wheel out there in Calif. One lasting incarnation ? the best by far ? made of ?former? this and thats, are the Sic Alps. Continuing in the tradition of The Hospitals, Sic Alps mix brutal fuzzy-riffs with Neolithic drum-thumping and black boxed vocals. But Sic Alps drag this formula forward on their first full-length, ?Pleasures and Treasures.? By lowering the volume a tad and stretching the guitar-drum-vocal core into a laffy-taffy swirl of garage and psychedelia (see Nuggets box set) and The Dead C, the Sic Alps produce a mightily refreshing sound.
Though reverb remains a precedent for Sic Alps, the punk crash suite that was ?Island of Jocks and Jazz? is tempered to form their calmer brand of Dust Bowl rock. Tracks like ?Down Comes the Perm? and ?I Know Where Madness Goes? are the album?s easiest-to-swallow aural pleasers: tainted blues rock marinated in warm fuzz. Usual frontman Adam Stonehouse moans out his demented lyrics like a wholesale rejection of the clean and traditional. (Stonehouse departed for that ferris wheel after ?Pleasures and Treasures? was recorded in 2005.) Scraps of lo-fi nonsense confirm that Sic Alps do not wish to be taken entirely seriously, but the cacophony is equal part studio detritus. Several songs could do without the weight, especially in light of the album?s half-hour running time. (Overall, the production efforts of Walter Weasel made ?purposefully lo-fi? sound like a wholly legitimate practice).
Like The Hospitals, the Sic Alps aren?t riding the vanguard of rock, but the band does operate on a genre tangent that affirms a worthiness of wider attention ? from the alt-rock crowd to the noiseniks. The Sic Alps are like a can?t-beat-them-join-them middle ground. Throw ?Pleasures and Treasures? into the background of a room and people might be tucking and rolling into the next, but played with a little forewarning ? ?mind your ears? ? I expect smiles to creep up on more than a few faces. 6/10 -- Andrew Meehan (30 October, 2006)