Hive Five: Our daily listicle of musical musings
San Francisco rock ‘n’ roll staples Sic Alps release their fourth album next week and, unlike their previous offerings, it’s a distortion-free affair. Their cleaner sound is in part due to local hero Eric Bauer, who recorded the album in his mansion — which has also hosted sessions for Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees — and also to Joanna Newsom band member Ryan Francesconi, who worked on arrangements for a couple of the songs. In between practices in Los Angeles for their upcoming tour, frontman Mike Donovan shared the five albums that most informed their new approach.
1. The Velvet Underground, The Quine Tapes
There’s six LPs in the box set and the 12 sides of them are permanent fixtures on my turntables. I love the vibe and listen to them all of the time. The recordings are San Francisco shows, except one in St. Louis, and you can hear all of the people in the crowd. The Velvet Underground are sardonic and have this almost superior attitude that’s funny. The sound is really amazing and they sound so big.
2. Colin Blunstone, One Year
After the original lineup of the Zombies split up and they went on to different things the singer Colin Blunstone put out a solo record in 1970. It has a lot of string quartet instrumentation on it and it’s really dreamily recorded. There’s some pretty strange avant-garde passages and there’s a cover called “Say You Don’t Mind” by Denny Laine — who was later Wings’ guitarist. When I was trading YouTube videos with Ryan Francesconi, who did the arrangement for “Glyphs” and “Rock Races” on this record, I sent him that track to give him an idea of where we were coming from.
3. U.S. Girls, GEM (due October 2012)
We were making our record at the same time and both coming from the noise underground. Meghan Remy made it with her husband whose name is Slim Twig — he produced it — and I’m really excited for that record to come out.
4. Neu!, Neu!
The song “Loieber Honig” is really, really slow and that influenced the last song on the record [“See You On the Slopes”].
5. The Dead C, Harsh 70’s Reality
It’s a record that I’m always listening to when I’m driving around and working. It’s a cinematic kind of music but sort of the opposite of the music in the Titanic, when the strings ensemble is playing and pulling your guts in one way; manipulating how you’re feeling and it’s really sad. The Dead C creates a really strong mood but through really strange sounds — and there’s some bangers in there too.
Sic Alps’ Sic Alps is out September 18 on Drag City. Stream the song “Glyphs” below: