The clanging cacophony and saccharine pop-rock hooks of Sic Alps is pretty well established at this point; zonked tape-haze, schizoid libretto and a copious number of amp squeals. Here on ‘Napa Asylum’ project mastermind Mike Donovan bangs through 22 cuts in about 48 minutes, usually only armed with a guitar and whatever freak-out effects he’s into that hour. What this results in, as usual, is a peculiar, and occasionally rewarding album that does Guided by Voices nostalgia a good amount of glory. Donovan never hits the bang-bang pop power that Pollard could, but a few of these morsels (‘Cement Surfboard’, ‘Ball of Flame’, ‘Wasted at Church’) are raucously fun enough to deserve their own respect, despite their abbreviated running time. An album like this all comes down to the song writing ideas and sonic squalls Mike can conjure up – luckily he knows what he’s doing.  ‘Napa Asylum’ is a vaguely psychotic collection of noise jams that you’ll like over half of.

By Luke Winkie

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