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I have always wondered why there aren’t more small-plate restaurants in San Francisco. Selling food in small portions for low prices could be the most genius idea in the history of the human culinary tradition--if patrons can’t decide what dish to order, they can just order five-dollar portions of whatever they want to try. Perhaps the main reason is simply that an incomplete portion is not always as enjoyable as a full meal, and good evidence to support that theory can be found in Sic Alps’ Napa Asylum. Asylum finds the San Francisco garage-rockers cramming twenty-two songs into a span of just over forty-five minutes. There are quite a few good (albeit incomplete-seeming) songs here, but most of the tunes seem to be throwaways and random noodlings. They are the ore of pop songs, ideas that would be better expanded on but are fine in the raw as well.
Take It Back EP
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Jeremy Lyon has always loved sharp contrast, an affinity that sometimes suits him well (“The End,” which he recorded with the legendary Audiophiles) and sometimes brings his music down. While the two songs on Lyon’s Take It Back EP are not bad songs, they are somewhat bogged down by hot-and-cold dynamic shifts. On “Take It Back,” an excellently crafted, elegantly galloping riff on the chorus is interrupted by the jerky island groove of the verse; on “The Daily Routine,” spacey vocals shoot out of the ‘70s FM-funk background for a contrasting and ultimately disarming effect. Lyon’s obviously a skilled wordsmith and hooksmith--it’s songsmithing he needs to work on.
* * 1/2
Let me just start by saying the first two minutes of “Broken Elevator” sound EXACTLY like 3OH!3, from the processed sprechgesang down to the dirty synth pulse. It’s hard not to imagine Nathaniel Motte fingering his English teacher to this beat. But after a spluttering verse, it transforms into a full-on Dirty Martinez club-stomper, complete with layers of shouting and blaring synths. Not the best from the Foolish Ways boys, but still hot enough to heat up the Red House any day.