SICMAN of Virginia

SICMAN of Virginia

 Norfolk, Virginia, USA
BandRockAlternative

"SICMaN is the punk rock version of the Grateful Dead" -- J. Slutman (GWAR, ManisDoomed).

Heavy mellow music for the common man.

Band Press

SICMAN OF VIRGINIA DELIVERS THE SICNESS – David Paul Kleinman- Jambands.com / Alt-Daily Music / Relix Magazine

Three tracks into Mourning Sicness you’re watching a David Lynch movie. Six tracks in you’re watching the Grateful Dead on Mount Olympus through a spacetime distortion tunnel. Nine tracks in you have unearthed a never-heard Neutral Milk Hotel cut with Steve Kimock on lead guitar. Mourning Sicness begins and ends with chunky, big-throaty-guitar-bus-comin’-down-the-street hard rock, but the middle ten tracks fly from Flamin’ Groovies stoner rock to Flaming Lips space jaunts to Clutch-like snarls to deliciously-sappy ballads--all the while maintaining a “sicness” at the center.

Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz appears on “Charles from the Raven,” “Madness of Life,” “Bleu Cheese,” and “Blanca Y Lobo,” and SICMaN is opening for the Dean Ween Group (fronted by Ween founder Mickey Melchiondo) in Asheville on April 11 and Raleigh on April 12. However obvious the Ween influence is, it isn’t in the ways one would expect. SICMaN is a hard rock band with a lot of range. Ween was always an art rock band with a drug problem. “Spaceship” starts out like the first set of a Black Sabbath show in a small club in Amsterdam in the late 60s, but once the lead guitar enters it is clear this track is going unexpected places. SICMaN celebrates without sounding hippy dippy, and while the influences may seem decades old, a listen to Steven Malkmus’s or of Montreal’s latest releases demonstrate this band is very much of their era. Tracks like “Gagagoogoo” have lyrics like “Step in my K hole, baby.” While tracks like “Dizzo King” sound like the fusion of reggae with blue-eyed soul.

To say SICMaN of Virginia is an idiosyncratic band is beyond obvious, but the band’s peccadillos and impressive grasp of multiple styles aren’t what make them great, it’s the sicness. What is the sicness? Well, writers have been trying for millennia to describe that. None other than Harlan Ellison called it “The Core of Unquenchable Perfection” and “The Abyss of Oracular Aurochs” and “The Core of Absolute Discretion,” and Philip K. Dick noted “fish cannot carry guns,” which is to say defining the unknowable is impossible. Defining the sicness is impossible, but these boys have it in spades. Take a listen to Mourning Sicness when it comes out on May 20 and you’ll see what I mean.

SICMaN are Matt Holloman on guitar and vocals. Joe Welch on drums. Scott Griffin on bass.

Album Review: Mourning Sicness by SICMaN of Virginia – Matt Thomas-Reinventing The Squeal

My first experience with SICMaN of VA was on a Sunday afternoon in early 2011. They were one of the first bands to appear on the long-running podcast YourMusicShow and were performing an experimental acoustic set in the kitchen with an upright bass, guitar, and synth. Magic happened that afternoon and I was immediately drawn to their trippy yet heavy punkish sound, somewhat silly lyrics (“You in your sweatpants, your sweatpants of love …”) and their likeness to Ween, probably my favorite band of all time. I went home and scrolled through iTunes to buy their brand new sophomore release, Sweatpants and other Necessary Nonsense, and It quickly became standard rotation in my library. I’ve been hooked on the SICMaN catalog ever since.

On May 20, SICMaN releases their fourth, and in my opinion best collection of songs to date, Mourning Sicness. Yes, some of the songs still contain dark humor and absurdities, and the heavy jamming SICMaN sound is definitely still intact. But the songwriting and playing have matured in a way I can’t quite place and the album seems more cohesive than previous efforts. The trio’s third release, Stale as it Ever Was was pure fun and jumped back and forth between genres often, as this record does as well. But all the songs on “Mourning Sicness” hold a footprint of a raw yet textured sound that is sustained throughout the album. The opening track, "Charles From the Raven," is a pure gold hard rocker that truly sets the energy for what is to come. It is also a one of the four tracks on the album that features Ween’s bassist Dave Dreiwitz as a guest. Singer/Guitarist Matt Holloman had this to say about the securing the guest experience:

“We contacted Dave about 10 years ago about doing some bass tracks for us. We were without a bassist at the time. We kept in contact and it finally panned out he was gonna be in the area performing with Marco Beneventos trio. I met him at the venue, drove him to studio J, did the 4 tracks, and then drove him back to the venue all in about a 2.5 hour time frame. He had never heard the songs until the car ride over from Virginia Beach to Ocean View. He for some reason took a liking to us. He agreed to do a show in New Hope with us a few months later with his duo, and that turned into Ween without Gener. The rest they say is history....”

The rawness continues with the second track “Decapitated” and begins to hint at the heavy intricate textures contained on the rest of the album. Cue up trippy layers of synths and wailing guitar solos suitable for both head banging or kicking back with your smoking buddies.

Speaking of wailing, I’d be amiss to not mention Holloman’s explosive guitar chops. When SICMaN plays live, they enjoy extending their songs to jam, sometimes up to ten minutes or more per song. These extended jams don’t happen on their albums, but the track “Big Brown Eye” is a perfect example of what you will hear and see when you see SICMaN live in their longer jamming mode. And, I have to wonder what Holloman sounds SO happy about when he exclaims “It’s a BIG BROWN EYE!!”

Among many other songs, SICMaN’s master bassist Scott Griffin gets to a chance to shine on the relatively mellow “Spaceship (15 to 5 Blues)” which took me back to Smashing Pumpkins Pisces Escariot era with its slow yet heavy and textured vibe.

"Bleu Cheese" is another track that features Dreiwitz and is probably the most reminiscent of Ween on this album. The likeness is undeniable both musically and vocally. It is a genius beautiful song in its own right while also serving as an honorable nod to one of SICMaN's greatest influences. This track, along with two others, features a second guest, Tim McDonald on keyboard. Drummer Joe Welch had this to say about McDonald:

“I met Tim about 12 years ago when I recorded Russell Scarborough's album called "Russell Scarborough presents Tim McDonald", and I recorded his solo Jazz album soon after as well. And when we finished the 1st SICMaN album we asked if he would put some keys down for us, cuz he dug our stuff. At the time he said he was going to move to Nashville one day and become a country musician, which he eventually did. We've stayed in touch ever since, but for this album we sent him the tracks and had him put the keys down at a studio in Nashville and send the key tracks back to us to put in the mix.”

The other two McDonald/Drewitz guest tracks, “Madness of Life” and “Bianca Y Lobo” are nice sing-a-long style tunes with a slightly different vibe that gets very rocking but in a folksy way that stays just heavy enough to be SICMaN. I would reservedly compare the tracks to The Grateful Dead when the extended instrumentals get extremely textured.

My favorite track on the album, "Gagagoogoo," is a definite pleaser and is probably the most accessible on the album. At first I heard Sonic Youth, then The Pixies, then just a touch of Ween, and before I realized, it had turned into a dance track interspersed with the breakdown with the manipulated struggling shouted vocals “It all feels the same!”

As with other SICMaN albums, Mourning Sicness was recorded and mixed by Welch at his attic recording space, Studio J. The album was nearly a year and a half in the making but not without good reason. Welch stays busy recording other hot local acts. He produced the award winning Sunlight Fever by The Framers and is currently recording Broken Mouth Annie’s new album. And the kicker: About halfway through the recording of their own record, Welch’s wife Rachel became pregnant with their first son, Joseph Jr. I can only assume that the track “Hey Joey” is a fun and playful childlike tribute to their newborn, and the album title itself almost had to have popped up as an indisputably appropriate play on unfortunate mother-to-be symptoms.

I could go on and on about Mourning Sicness, and SICMaN, for many pages, but I think that Justin Wilson of YourMusicShow summed up this album perfectly with three words: “It’s essential SICMaN.” And with that I urge you get yourself a copy of Mourning Sicness and rock out in your own SIC way.

Mourning Sicness will be released on May 20 and is available for pre-order at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mourning-sicness/id848473424

The CD Release show will take place Friday May 30 at Belmont House of Smoke in Norfolk, with special guest RIO.

Much more info and music at http://www.sicman.com

SICMAN OF VIRGINIA-MOURNING SICNESS (REVIEW) – Thugbrarian

The first time I heard anything about SICMaN of Virginia was in 2011, when my band MANisDOOMED! was added to a show with them in Norfolk, Va. at the last minute. We listened to some of their songs online, but it was the live show that knocked me on my ass. These guys are accomplished musicians, I would go so far as to use the word virtuoso. After that set, when I tried to convey what they are, all I could say was ” if Black Flag played the Grateful Dead’s music, it would be called SICMaN of Virginia.” the band has been putting out eclectic, Heavy Mellow releases from their own Studio J. Albums such as their last release “Stale as it Ever Was’, which is the only other album of theirs that I have listened to from beginning to end. That album pretty much had me shaking my head in disbelief. The music ran the gamut from psychedelic inflected 60s rave-ups, jazzy-folk meanderings, to sweet ballads, as well as eerie spookjams from outer space. Their 4th and newest release, Mourning Sicness, to me is a turning point for the band, a time where they have built a masterpiece- an object of musical art, where every second has been carefully crafted, with the results being an intelligent, perfectly produced collection of songs you can feel, as well as hear.

The album begins with the band coming heavy, in the form of the fuzzy, balls out Charles from the Raven (see video link below), which features Dave Dreiwitz of Instant Death, and Ween fame.( He and Nashville keyboardist Tim McDonald guest on 6 of the songs on the album) It is a straight-ahead rocker that is reminiscent of an MC5 blast. The dirty heaviness continues on Decapitated, where guitarist Matt Holloman cranks out a distorted, fuzzbomb of reckless abandon. By this time, I was feeling the energy, while ugottalottagumption totally changes the direction and the vibe, sending my body left, when I was about to go right. The intro slips in with a chill Trip-Hop beat, which builds into an Eno era Bowie/early Pink Floyd mindscrew. The segue from dirty distortion, to trippy dreamscape acted as an aural palate cleanser, clearing the way for the whimsical Big Brown Eye, which starts off with a bright acoustic intro, (again, reminding me of early Bowie) it quickly evolves into a heavy, fuzz-laden psychedelic tear. The lyrics are ambiguous enough to where filthy old men, such as myself, immediately imagine the worst, in regards to the meaning in the title. Holloman’s voice ruefully croons “Sometimes you find what you’re looking for, other times you don’t know what you’re looking for, tonight I know what I’m looking for. It’s a big brown eye!!!” I would love to read some of your ideas as to what this song is about. Feel free to use the comments section at the bottom.



The fifth selection, Spaceship (15 to 5 blues) begins the mood swing that takes over at this point of the album, with hints of Grand Funk’s I’m Your Captain, The band melds even tighter together, showcasing the dynamic rhythm section of Joe Welch on Drums and Scott Griffin on Bass, with Matt Holloman‘s expert guitar and vocals. His voice has a lot of range, and he is able to move from one style to another with ease. The next few songs soften a bit, with the funky Sisyfaic, and the beautifully done Blue Cheese , featuring Dave Driewitz. The vocal delivery over the warm, fuzzy distortion makes me imagine a cross between Nick Cave and Donovan; at once gothic, yet there is a definite homage to early psychedelic folk-rock, thanks to the warm, distorted fuzz guitars.



Madness of Life, Blanca Y Lobo and Hey Joey slow things down some. These songs are mellow pieces of layered guitars, keys and mandolins, among other instruments. Blanca Y Lobo hints at the Grateful Dead, while Hey Joey may hold a special place on this album, since drummer Joe Welch and his wife Rachel gave birth 5 months ago to little Joey jr., well before the finishing of this release. Hey Joey’s lilting ballad no sooner fades, and Mourning Sicness once again gets muscular with the song Gagagoogoo, which begins with the sound of a child’s music box, and becomes a dark, post-punk dirge reminiscent of Joy Division, with hints of Television. this is one of my favorite songs of the album,with ghoulish keyboard lines, and my favorite lyric: “it all feels the same”, which is a depressing idea, yet many of us can commiserate.

Dizzo King is a stunning Ska infused tune, which I wasn’t expecting, but was glad to hear, leading to the final song, which I have been wondering about since song #6, because I just wanted to know how they would end such a sick collection of songs. The last one, Soundtrack, was not at all what I was expecting. Its spooky New Wave/Gothic, fuzzy freakout is unlike any other song on the album. I just sat there shaking my head again- just like the first time I witnessed them live. I really envy the people that are about to hear this album for the first time, because I would love to re-experience that feeling of surprise and appreciation you get when you hear music that you just weren’t expecting. Perhaps, I will make up for that by hearing all the little secrets I missed the first time.

Joe, Matt and Scott have a lot of influences, and they wear them on their sleeve; Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Parliament/Funkadelic, Grateful Dead and certainly Ween. That said, like all great musicians, they take those riffs and make them their own, twisting them up with other pieces of their being, creating a unique and mind-blowing sound that distinguishes them from the sea of pretenders out there. They kind of remind me of a freakier Galactic, from New Orleans, without the horns. Norfolk, Va. should be proud to have a band of this calibre creating within it’s boundaries.-It’s not too late to show your appreciation to them, the official release of Mourning Sicness will be on Friday, May 30th at Belmont House of Smoke, in Norfolk, Va. The album is available at the show, or right this minute on Amazon and iTunes (Links Below).

Mourning Sicness available at:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Mourning-Sicness-SICMaN-Virginia/dp/B00J9247CC/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1400583705&sr=1-1&keywords=sicman+of+virginia

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mourning-sicness/id848473424

SICMaN Of Virginia - Stale As It Ever Was (Smelt Records) – Leicester Bangs Magazine


SICMaN Of Virginia is a three man rock band from south eastern Virginia. They've been around in one variation or another since 2002, though they were pretty much studio-bound for the first seven years of their existence, not breaking cover until 2009 for dates with several high profile indie bands, including The Whigs and Company Of Thieves. "Stale As It Ever Was" is their third album.

Though they're not painting their musical pictures using a huge palette, there are no shortage of ideas to compensate for the lack of string orchestras and horn sections. With what mostly sounds like just guitar, bass, drums and vocals they've managed to produce a distinctive collection, which doesn't quite sound like anyone else. Sure, there are influences at play, a little Sebadoh or Pavement here, some Frank Black there, but nothing that presents one of those unfortunate `Eureka!' moments.

At just over half an hour, "Stale As It Ever Was" doesn't get stale at all. From the short a capella intro to the final track, "Don't Call" where an Everly Brothers acoustic guitar comes into contact with a song that name checks Sid and Nancy, there's always another musical surprise waiting. Inspired writing is ever-present and standout tracks soon become the norm. "Time" is lo-fi progressive, with a multitude of parts and recurring sections. Ambitious and fearless, but concise at less than four minutes. "Driving Miss Crazy" must get a mention for having the best title, but its Be Bop Deluxe inspired chords, and English glammy-style vocal keeps the repeat button busy. "Sushi" begins with a little electronica, something that sounds distinctly analogue, though guitars are soon added to the mix, and the resulting chaos is a genuine highlight - amongst many.

Groove Advisory: The Latest in Local Music – Alt Daily

Beirut and Foxy Shazam really have nothing in common sonically. I relate to both in that they’re very left of center in their songwriting and performing. Neither seem concerned with being pop stars or sexy or taken too seriously.

This made me think about local acts who do the same. Most here are mainstream-sounding in some way. I don’t mean cheesy or untalented, but our scene has a lot of rock and country, and while there are 65,748,676 ways to rework those genres, out-and-out performance rock was not something I thought existed here.

However, I just got my mind changed with the arrival of Sicman of VA’s new album Sweatpants & Other Unnecessary Nonsense. With illustrious and very, very serious song titles like “Sweatpants of Love,” “Gamblin’ for Groceries,” and “Cutter,” one gets the gist before even taking the disk out of the jewel case. It’s not completely ridiculous, though. The sound itself reminds me of the times when Les Claypool gets all weird and tries to bend soundwaves with his fists. I wouldn’t say Sicman is at the level of Claypool, but it’s definitely encouraging to hear something so unconventional produced locally.

Groove Advisory: The Latest in Local Music – Alt Daily

Beirut and Foxy Shazam really have nothing in common sonically. I relate to both in that they’re very left of center in their songwriting and performing. Neither seem concerned with being pop stars or sexy or taken too seriously.

This made me think about local acts who do the same. Most here are mainstream-sounding in some way. I don’t mean cheesy or untalented, but our scene has a lot of rock and country, and while there are 65,748,676 ways to rework those genres, out-and-out performance rock was not something I thought existed here.

However, I just got my mind changed with the arrival of Sicman of VA’s new album Sweatpants & Other Unnecessary Nonsense. With illustrious and very, very serious song titles like “Sweatpants of Love,” “Gamblin’ for Groceries,” and “Cutter,” one gets the gist before even taking the disk out of the jewel case. It’s not completely ridiculous, though. The sound itself reminds me of the times when Les Claypool gets all weird and tries to bend soundwaves with his fists. I wouldn’t say Sicman is at the level of Claypool, but it’s definitely encouraging to hear something so unconventional produced locally.

The Real Truth- SICMaN at County Grill – Hub Pages

It's been a long time folks but this needs to be out there. A few nights ago we went to the County Grill in Yorktown, VA. That evening the Popular Vultures and SICMaN of VA destroyed the faces of everyone within a five mile radius with rock and roll. It was a great time. I (@thehulkster) was out there with Ronnie (@krazymunkyman) and Chris (@thevulkster), representing YourMusicShow (@yourmusicshow). We came up with some new bits for the show, talked to Popular Vultures for about a second, and got some footage of SICMaN of VA playing. So check out these videos and junk. Immediately to the right you'll see the video for Ronnie's Random Bets. One of the new bits we came up with. Just under that next to the links is a Stupid Human Trick that some broad insisted on doing. So we recorded it!

Sweatpants of Course
Below is the last set of songs we were able to capture on film that night, and it starts with the number one hit Sweatpants of Love. Note the background singer is not in the band. HA! Above I've posted the next few dates where you can see SICMaN out and about in Hampton Roads.