SAN FRAN’S Sic Alps, living guitar legends, were one of those bands which, with the amount of the talent in its ranks, could only burn bright and, like an unstable isotope, emit members to spin off into other musical pursuits, eventually to transform itself in a musical half-life.
Tim Hellman went into the ranks of Thee Oh Sees; Mike Donovan was joined by still other members of John Dwyer’s psych voyagers in The Peacers and Ty Segall also initially stepped forward from the one outfit into the other before himself spinning out into other aural worlds.
What’s set The Peacers apart from other bands from that scene they’re travelling alongside (and exchanging members with) is a more baroque, acoustic approach to their garage vision; maybe a little more Pearls Before Swine in that initial mix than say, Bubble Puppy, maybe more ’66 than ’69.
Frankly, it’s about time we had a third album from them; 2015’s self-titled debut, full of lazy, glammy nuggets, and Introducing The Crimsmen, which followed two years on (and whoah, hang on, did we ever get that introduction already? I don’t remember actually meeting them on that occasion. Mind you, fair, there was a lot of “Haptic Chillweed” about that fateful night …) were getting lonely out here. Three’s company, when the company’s this good.
And well, whaddya know, the second Peacers line-up, the one that recorded that second album after exactly two-thirds of the album one version made for the out door – they’ve held firm to the tiller for this little beauty, Blexxed Rec, so props, Bo Moore, Shayde Sartin and Mike Shoun. Mike Donovan may have headed for the east coast and dropped a couple of solo sets, but they’ve kept a welcome in the Cali hillsides. Jolly good show. No time to shilly-shally. Prop the doors open lads, we’s a comin’ in.
“Ms. Ela Stanyon’s School of Acting” opens the show in a classic hipgrindin’, lip-curlin’ stylee, Mike singing up and out in a holy brew of reverb and distortion, with what’s just a classic slab of garage rawk, chewin’ gum, the swagger of Jon Spencer and the like. “Ghost of a Motherfucker” takes us on deeper, every riff counting, Mike beaming in from AM radio in a rusty Chevy a la Christine; timeless. And it riffs up atonally and lazyass deliciously while that motherfucker sleeps all day.
“Dickdog In Paris” keeps that expletive ball bouncing, absolutely barrels in on some razor-sharp guitar, blows the doors off; but interludes into flute-laden paisley pop straight off a rare Deram 7″, growls and ups the noise again. Proper psychedelic garage pop, all 128 seconds of it. And it opens the door for the harmony glide of “Colors For You”, which breezes in on a cloud of 12-string and patchouli before chords windmill and crash with a post-mod abandon and baroque cellos, escapees from “I Am The Walrus” given fitting asylum. In an ideal world, you might see Stevie Marriott jumping up on stage at a live show for an ass-shakin’ run at this one.
“Stinson Teep” reaches into its bags of tricks for a prelude of sequenced drums, discards them quickly for a folksy blues, or maybe a bluesy folks. Whichever, this is music to be-in to at Golden Gate Park, long loose herbal cigarettes, a little insouciant tambourine; hell, why not indeed? That organ hits at just right time to vamp us higher. The bongos exist in their own world of echo, which is cool. It has a little coda that gets going again on a lazily strummed acoustic, and those digital drums show us out graciously.
Yer actual album came preluded by a single, “Irish Suit Oblique”, and that also came with a video; so why the hell not, you can take a squinny at that down by the sales kickers desk. It has an eerie little eddy, it does, with that oblique comment on the masked world we currently inhabit in that mesh fruit bag face covering, maybe; strange, cut-up sentences steal up the screen, all to visually inform a tune with bags of atmosphere and a deliciously baroque-psych vibe. Cool.
“Blackberry Est” shows The Peacers’ particularly lovable and wonky take on garage, givin’ the blueprint a toe up the ass, especially with that abstract guitar break. You suspect this is what The Monkees could’ve sounded like, if they’d been around long enough to get their heads around post-punk. From one pastoral plant title to another, “Dandelion” delights in mellotron and an especially pingy snare, with a yearning hook: “Who will tell her now?” – maybe our Dandelion is an errant Suzy Creamcheese, head full of too much sunshine.
“The Thunder Is An Electrical Love God” rolls down Bleecker Street, wholly unconcerned it’s gone electric; it’s seen the future, and the future has fuzz, dropped … just … so. Bring it; “Alloyed Sheik” shows the boys can do you effortless powerpop at the drop of a dime. Don’t lean on them, man.
“Bic Sitar”: you want an album highlight? You gots it right here, Clyde. It’s a proper Anglophile psych-pop confection, would not have sounded out of place at all on Odessey And Oracle or anything by the British Kaleidoscope; it has pah-pah-pahs and a pocket kitchen sink tale, harmonies everywhere, and bursts through your suburban ceiling on a twin wave of guitars. Play it again. Again, I say. Betting you Mike has all those great Bam Caruso comps like The Electric Crayon Set. Boy, he knows how to arrow a psych tune at yo’ soul. Every conceivable thumb up.
“Make It Right” is a dusky, piano-led thing, though guitars ring just underneath; this could’ve been airbrushed up into some lonely lover’s ballad, and it’s absolutely correct they’ve left it as an Alex Chilton-type serving of fine introspection. Atmosphere? Bags of the stuff. Hey, play this one again too.
Whatcha got? A great little garage rock record, is what. One foot in a California garage, fiddling with the fuzz pedals; another gazing across the ocean to Swingin’ London town, taking in folkiness, powerpop, mod and freakbeat touches. A great record for a dusk motorway, this; yeah, a great little record.
The Peacers’ Blexxed Rec will be released by Drag City today, March 26th, digitally, on cassette and on vinyl, and is available to order right now over at the label’s webstore; or get y’self down to your neighbourhood record emporium.