Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Sic Alps' song, "Do You Want To Give $$?" from the San Francisco group's latest album, "Napa Asylum," is filled with connotations that are at the root of nearly everything that makes or forces us to do anything. It's has what sounds to be a seedy undercurrent, creating a mood of illicit happenings and these tricky maneuverings that leverage youth against morality and stability, not to mention need against yearning and want. The song must have started as a babble, a word and riff exercise that found legs of its own through time. It continued to linger and pop into lead singer Mike Donovan's head and the words just kept building, the repetitive nature of the consuming thought of money and either attaining it or giving it away kept churning itself out, as a moody reminder of what never stops affecting us.
The beginning parts of the song revolve around what could have been a conversation at a merch table one night, toward the deeper part of it, when everyone gets a little lubricated and jabbery. It could have been someone fawning over the band and the performance that just happened on stage and there was a stammering statement of wanting to help the band out in any way possible. You can picture this as an older man, in his cool guy leisure clothes, out on a Thursday night because he's the boss and he doesn't have to tell the wife where he's going. He's just heading to the rock club for what he would consider cheap drinks, while everyone else bellyached about the steep prices. After the conversation had stretched for long enough, maybe the band just said, "Do you want to give money?" at which point, the drunken old man dropped a hundred dollar bill on the table and all he wanted in return was a poster and a CD - not even a vinyl.
It becomes a song, where that need and necessity of money gets silly and chuckly, where it all feels a bit like bull, like anyone should give a shit about the superficiality of such a need, even with its real repercussions if there is none in the pocket. Donovan sings, "Do you want to get, money/Hold it in your hands, honey," and it comes back to a general question of why someone's attracted to another person and whether there's any way to really know without asking this question. Elsewhere, Donovan sings about how "lanterns light her eyes," and he'd like to think that this is all that is lighting them. Sic Alps music provides all of the crunchiness and the pessimistic qualities to suggest that the lanterns in all eyes are usually questioned. All of the handshakes and smiles are treated the same way.