Sic Alps

Napa Asylum

San Francisco has become quite the hotbed of rock (and, no, I’m not talking about the San Andreas Fault), with bands like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall making some serious racket. Sic Alps is right there with them. But the three-piece—made up of Mike Donovan, Matt Hartman and new drummer Noel von Harmonson—is a little more unsettling, luring you in with jaunty hooks only to lash out with unexpected fireballs of noise. And Napa Asylum works for the very fact that it’s a double record, making all of those noisy bits a bit more digestible. Lo-fi—which became the aughts’ go-to aesthetic—can make certain bands even more unlistenable than they already are. The members of Sic Alps use it as a separate instrument. The recording sounds brittle and crackly as guitars come in squelchy bursts and drums stumble in time. Donovan’s vocals soar high in the mix in drunken echoes. At their best, like on the psychedelic/apocalyptic “Trip Train,” Sic Alps are otherworldly. Napa Asylum is very much the new sound of San Francisco—and what a long, strange trip it is.