Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30, 2009: Sik Sik Nation

It’s about time for me to write about a rock album, and that’s what Sik Sik Nation’s Eight Styles to the Unholy is. Or should I say a psych-rock album, because the slowly building atmospheres, spiraling beats and moods created on this album definitely fit the definition of psychedelic. These songs give you room to move around and explore; spaces fashioned organically by flowing and changing sound, distorted guitars and a forceful heartbeat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all swaying trippiness, there’s plenty of rock to be had on this album. It’s just nicely tempered by these “spaces”.

One of the first things I noticed about this band was their dynamic rhythms. Eric Oppitz’s thrumming bass and Rick Sawoscinski’s swinging percussion produce the heartbeat of their songs, present even when it seems like chaos might ensue. Because of these steady rhythms, Sean Morrow’s guitar has the freedom to bend and cry in the matrix, distorting and ringing out. At the center, are Morrow’s quintessentially rock vocals. His voice fits this music like a glove with just enough growl to its smoothness.

Let’s highlight some tracks:

Eight Styles to the Unholy’s third track is “Lock Me Up” and it starts with one of those “spaces” I was talking about earlier. A steady beat (one which I’m sure my downstairs neighbors are sick of feeling) and whining guitar start off, letting you look around a bit before the vocals kick in. When they do kick in, they are delivered with a kind of fast drawl. The chorus is quite catchy and it’s leading by example when the other guys join in with “when you lock me up, just throw away the key”; you just can’t fight doing the same.

Another of my favorites is “Reflection Romancers”. At first you may think you’re not listening to the same band, what with the first few seconds sounding like an 80s pop song, but then comes the tell-tale guitar solo. Then a thudding beat and humming bass. This is one of those songs that makes me look crazy when I’m listening to it because I can’t help bobbing my head, especially during the chorus. I have almost no idea what this song is about, but I can’t help but feeling I do for just a few seconds when Morrow roars “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, satiate!”.

Finally, there’s the eight and a half minute “Oh So Hazy,” which is what you should listen to first if you’re looking for a definition of psychedelic. Something that sounds an awful lot like a sitar and droning noises float around your head while the driving beat keeps the song grounded. There’s also this great drumstick-y cadence that I find myself listening for throughout the whole song. About halfway through, there’s another “space” and I like this one the best because there’s so much going on in it. That sitar sound, the bass running around all over the place, cymbals ringing, and these ambient noises sliding over everything. You kind of never want it to end. Vocals slide in and fade out, pulsing distortion is punctuated by high guitar…and then it’s over.
I think what I like best about Sik Sik Nation is that they’re different from most of what I usually listen to. For me, they’re best at creating an atmosphere especially when I see them live. I’m not trying to sing along, I’m just enjoying and experiencing the sound.

Speaking of seeing them live: You should do that. They’ve got a couple of local gigs in May. Go and enjoy the music as well as their 60s style overhead-projector-with-colored-oil light show.

5/1/2009 @The Lager House (Detroit)
5/2/2009 @The Blind Pig (Ann Arbor)

Eight Styles to the Unholy is CD-1385 at the Ferndale Library. You can visit Sik Sik Nation at their myspace: http://www.myspace.com/siksiknation (check out their new song “Lord is My Gun”).

Things You Should See This Week

Wednesday 4/1/09 -- Wavves -- Carjack @Magic Stick (Detroit)

Thursday 4/2/09 -- Champions of Breakfast (Tour Kick Off) -- Cougar The Tiger -- Kommie Kilpatrick @ The Belmont (Hamtramck)

Friday 4/3/09 -- Crippled Black Phoenix -- Wildcatting -- Ganon @Magic Stick (Detroit)

Saturday 4/4/09 -- Deastro (Spritle 7" Release Party!) -- Terrible Twos -- F'ke Blood -- Lightning Love @The Pike Room (Pontiac) FREE / ALL AGES
More about this later! I may have something up my sleeve…

Saturday 4/4/09 -- Spring Fling Craft Thing @Loving Touch (Ferndale)

Sunday 4/5/09 -- Deastro -- The Muggs -- Pop Project -- Hentchmen -- Silent Years -- Friendly Foes -- Spitting Nickels -- The Displays @Magic Stick (Detroit)

Sunday 4/5/09 -- Great Lakes Myth Society -- These United States -- Lightning Love -- Big Mess @Lager House (Detroit)
Are you seeing this? TWO awesome shows on a Sunday? What is the world coming to?

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