Man--and women for that matter--cannot live on rock alone. Sometimes one needs to step back from the screaming vocals, power chords and thundering bass and drums, and mellow out. On this morning, on which the Southern California area where I reside is experiencing the phenomenon known as June gloom in late July, the perfect soundtrack might just be the Sian Alice Group. When I listen to Troubled, Shaken Etc., the band's second album--due Tuesday (Aug. 4)--I hear bits that remind me of Radiohead, Hugo Largo, and the Cocteau Twins, but the Sian Alice Group really doesn't sound exactly like anybody else other than themselves. Check out this clip of the band performing "The Low Lights," one of 13 exquisite tracks on Troubled, Shaken Etc., at the recent Loop Festival in Brighton, England.
The Sian Alice Group is named for its frontwoman, Sian Alice Ahern. Although Ahern may be the inspiration for the band's name, oddly enough, she wasn't a founding member of the band that evolved into the Sian Alice Group. That honor goes to multi-instrumentalists Rupert Clervaux and Ben Crook, who worked as an engineer/producer and music video director, respectively, before joining forces in 2006. Aside from the core trio, the band's 2008 full-length debut, 59.59, is not only one second shy of an hour, but also includes contributions from former the Jesus & Mary Chain member Douglas Hart on bass, Spiritualized/Spring Heel Jack member John Coxon on guitar and Gang Gang Dance's Brian DeGraw on piano. As you saw in that clip, this London, U.K.-based combo playstraditional rock instrumentation--electric guitar and bass, drums andkeyboards--but plays them in a non-traditional manner, with theotherworldly vocals of Ahern floating on top.
In explaining the band's creative process during the making of 59.59, Crook told IntentityTheory.com that the band mixed pre-written material with in-studio improvisation. "It's a pretty even mix," he said. "We made a creative decision early in the recording not to use any 'rock' drums. We try to keep it as loose as possible, and the luxury of your own studio allows that." Check out the band's performance of "Motionless," a track from 59.59, also from the band's recent gig at the Loop Festival.
Often times new acts are linked to established artists out of convenience. This helps fans discover the new artists; especially if they share some sort of common musical bond with the act they're to which they are associated. Early reports on the Sian Alice Group tagged the group as "Spiritualized protégés," and indeed the Sian Alice Group played its second and third shows ever opening for Spiritualized and later toured with the band, but the members of the Sian Alice Group prefer to be known as "friends" with Spiritualized mastermind Jason Pierce, rather than followers. And rightly so, because on Troubled, Shaken Etc. it's clear that the Sian Alice Group is following no one's muse but their own.