Category: psych folk

New Video: Brighton Psych Act Wax Machine Releases a Gorgeous and Mind-Bending Animated Visual for “Shade”

Led by its Brazilian-born founder Lau Ro (vocals, guitar), who spent time living in Italy and England, along with Isobel Jones (vocals, flute) and Toma Sapir (drums), the Brighton, UK-based psych rock act Wax Machine draws heavily from its founder’s international’s upbringing. With a handful of EPs under their collective belts, the band has developed a reputation for drawing from a number of disparate genres and styles.  The Brighton-based act’s forthcoming Go Kurosawa-produced album Earthsong of Silence will further cement the Brighton-based act’s growing reputation for a genre-defying, anachronistic sound, as the album reportedly finds the band incorporating elements of spiritual jazz, krautrock. tropicalia and library music filtered through a psychedelic lens.

Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, Earthsong of Silence continues where “Mind Palace,” off their last EP, Mind Palace left them — exploring English psych folk but while also touching upon the sunny tranquility of West Coast psych. As the band’s Lau Ro says in press notes, the album thematically “is an exploration into paradoxes, meditation and magic, predicated on the underlying idea of becoming one with nature and in harmony with the environment.”

“Shade” Earthsong of Silence’s latest single is a lysergic and seamless synthesis of Nick Drake-like folk, Haight-Ashbury-era grooves and vibes, Brazilian tropicalia-like breeziness and free-flowing jazz-tinged improvisation that manages to sound decidedly anachronistic — as though it could have been released sometime between 1967-1969 or so. The song — to me, at least — manages to evoke an easygoing summer afternoon, observing nature under the influence of hallucinogens.

The recently released animated video for “Shade” is fittingly mind-altering: in the background the viewer will see leaves fluttering in the wind, the rippling of water. But superimposed over that are gorgeous line animations of the band performing the song, with equally hallucinogenic imagery.

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New Video: Ft. Langley-Directed Visual for Shimmering “Lately in Another Time” Follows an Astronaut in Training

Tracing their origins back to when its members — David Parry and Lucas and Jesse Henderson — spent shared summers planting trees in Western Canada’s forest, the rapidly rising Victoria, British Columbia-based, lo-fi psych folk act Loving with their self-released debut effort, quickly established a signature sound – a warm and dreamy sonic soundscape paired with existentially-leaning lyrics and an unspecified, all-encompassing sense of nostalgia. 

In a relatively short period do time, the trio found success online and as a result, they also managed to quickly amass a devoted fanbase. After only selectively touring to support a handful of prominent and acclaimed artists including the likes of Crumb, Alice Phoebe Lou, Still Woozy, and others, the band embarked on their first proper North American tour to build up buzz for their full-length debut, If I Am Only  My Thoughts slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Last Gang Records.

Recored to tape, and then mixed and mastered by the band’s David Parry in his self-described “cold, dismal” basement studio in Victoria, British Columbia, the album’s lush and homespun material, reportedly are balmy and inviting and comprised of a series of open-ended questions, centered around existential themes. “There isn’t a single narrative driving this album, but we do linger on some basic human problems: confusion in the face of a desire for self-knowledge and belonging, a struggle for meaning that is circular and sometimes seemingly endless,” the band’s Jesse Henderson says in press notes. While those looming questions go largely unanswered, they are fodder for further competition, delivered with a peaceful and effortless naturalism. 

If I Am Only My Thoughts’ latest single is the shimmering and achingly nostalgic “Lately In Another Time.” And while possessing the intimacy and contemplative nature of a bedroom recording, the song is deceptively cinematic, as it’s centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling keys, shimmering guitars, gently padded drumming, a soaring hook and plaintive vocals singing lyrics about the utter strangeness of life itself. Much like its predecessor “Only She Knows,” the track features an anachronistic sound and production that recalls Nick Drake, Junip and others. 

Directed by Ft. Langley, the recently released video continues the old-timey vibes, as it follows an astronaut and NASA staff and crew prepare for a mission into space. There’s constant monitoring, tracking and testing and our dutiful and brave astronaut recognizes the seriousness of the entire ordeal — after all, if something goes wrong during the tests or in space, he could die. Interestingly, the gorgeous and contemplative music gives the mundanity of it all, a surreal air. 

 

Brian Collins is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising, indie recording project Hurt Valley. With Hurt Valley, Collins crafts shambling and rollicking songs that sound heavily indebted to AM Radio rock, as they frequently feature elements of folk and psych rock — and while sounding as though it were released in 1967, “Apartment Houses,” off Collins soon-to-be-released Hurt Valley debut, Glacial Pace, the shimmering track is centered around a sense of being lost and lonely in an unfamiliar and new place. And yet, the song’s narrator finds a way to push onward.

I’m writing this post in a Starbucks, looking at the snow out  of the window and I’m reminded of my recent trip to Montreal. And as soon as I landed atMontreal-Trudeau International Airport, I was aware of the fact that I was yet again in a strange, unfamiliar place where no one really knew me — and where I didn’t speak or comprehend the language. But I’ve always managed to push onward and thrive. So as you can imagine, the song hits a real personal spot at the moment.

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Loving Releases a Woozy and Shimmering New Single

Loving is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based indie act, comprised of David Parry and the brothers, Lucas and Jesse Henderson. The band can trace their origins back to spending shared summers planting trees in Western Canada’s forest. As a band, the trio quickly developed a signature sound centered around a warm and dreamy sonic soundscape paired with existentially-leaning lyrics and an unspecified, all-encompassing sense of nostalgia. 

Their self-released debut collection of lo-fi psych folk songs found success online and as a result, the Canadian trio managed to amass an organic fanbase in a short period of time.  After only selectively touring to support a handful of prominent and acclaimed artists including the likes of Crumb, Alice Phoebe Lou, Still Woozy the band just recently embarked on their first proper North American tour to build up buzz for their full-length debut slated for an early 2020 debut through Last Gang Records. The tour includes an October 28, 2019 stop at Baby’s All Right. (You can check out the tour dates below.)

Interestingly, their latest single “Only She Knows” is a mischievously anachronistic track centered around shimmering layers of guitar, bursts of twinkling keys and plaintive vocals. And while seemingly bearing a resemblance to Nick Drake, Junip and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, the song possesses a brooding and aching sense of nostalgia. 

Live Footage: Alice Phoebe Lou Performing the Oscar-Shortlisted Song “She” in Berlin

Alice Phoebe Lou is a Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has developed a reputation for a fiercely independent, almost punk rock-like DIY approach to her ethereal indie folk music. Although her parents were documentary filmmakers, Lou took piano lessons as a child and then as a teenager, taught herself to play guitar. As the story goes, when the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was 16, she spent a summer vacation visiting her aunt in Paris. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the young singer/songwriter met a number of buskers and other street performers — some who taught her poi dancing.

Upon graduation, Lou went to Europe — first landing in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer, before relocating to Berlin, where she became a popular busker, performing interpretations of popular songs and her own original material, and eventually developing her own unique sound.  With the release of her 2014 self-released debut EP Momentum, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began receiving international attention — and as a result, she spent the following year performing at a number of TED events in London and Berlin, as well as Exponential Medicine.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Lou released her critically applauded, 2016 full-length debut Orbit, which saw her garner a nomination for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as a set at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda. Additionally, Lou spent much of 2016 on the road, touring to support her debut effort, sharing bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, Allen Stone and Crystal Fighters. During the course of that year, she played three multimedia sold out events at the Berlin Planetarium — and by demand, she added two additional planetarium shows to her 2017 tour itinerary.

Along with the Berlin Planetarium shows, Lou saw a live version of “She” with the live performance video, shot during two different Berlin area shows going viral — and as of this post, the video has received over 2.5 million YouTube streams. Interestingly, the song is also featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story , with the song recently being shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Adding to an incredible run of critical success, Lou released her latest EP, Sola at the end of last year.

As for “She,” the song will further cement the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based artist’s reputation for her ethereal and tender soprano — but in this case, paired around what may be the most shoegazer rock-like arrangement, she’s ever produced as the song features looping and shimmering guitar chords, thundering and tribal-like drumming,  gently swirling electronics and an anthemic hook. And while at points the song is reminiscent of the likes of Wolf Alice, Lightfoils and others, it possesses a restless longing at its core.

A studio version of “She” is slated for a February 23, 2018 release, and after the single’s release, Lou will embark on a international tour that will include a Stateside run. And a new album is currently in the works, too.

 
 

Founded in 2007 by its Athens, Greece-based founding member and primary songwriter, Katerina Papachristou, the indie folk/indie pop act Tango with Lions initially began with Papachristou collaborating with rotating cast of collaborators before eventually settling on its permanent lineup featuring Papachristou (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Yannos Paramithiotis (electric guitar, vocals), Nikos Vergetis (drums, percussion, vocals), Jim Staridas (trombone, vocals) and Thodoris Zefkilis (bass, vocals). And with the release of their first two albums, 2010’s Verba Time, which featured “In A Bar,” one of the most streamed songs by a contemporary Greek artist ever on YouTube; and 2013’s A Long Walk, the band quickly received both critical and commercial success across Greece and elsewhere.  

After a five year hiatus, the band’s highly anticipated follow up to their critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Light is slated for a January 19, 2018 through Inner Ear Records, and the album reportedly finds Papachristou writing 9 deeply introspective songs that touch upon separation, pleasure, nihilism and excessive optimism, as well as music’s dual nature of encouraging both light and dark. “Proof of Desire,” The Light‘s latest single will further cement Papachristou and company’s reputation for crafting contemplative material while being simultaneously sparse, lush and moody in a way that reminds me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Husky but with a subtly anxious, tenseness — while nodding at psych rock. As Papachristou explains in press notes, “When you are emotionally drained, being involved with someone new seems to conceal so many  unconscious parameters of emotional endangerment that you eventually shut down. This song is about the cruel realisation that you don’t really know how much or if you can give yourself to a new love story. I was very consciously aware of the rules of this game and of how this knowledge was disabling any feelings of hope or freedom I would formerly experience. In other words, overwhelming skepticism was filling in for innocence.”

Throughout the past year, I’ve written a couple of posts featuring the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads, and as you may recall the band, currently comprised of husband and wife duo Evan Way and Brette Marie Way, along with Sam Fowles, Robbie Auspurger and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends can trace their origins to when its core members met in Eugene OR in 2004, where they all were attending college and studying for degrees that as the band’s frontman Evan Way jokes in the band’s official bio “never used or even completed.” “We  would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

The following year, the band’s founding members relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, with the members of the band eventually moving into and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment in West Lost Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says. And while in Los Angeles, the members of the band quickly became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the artsy Silverlake and Echo Park sections of town. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, the band spent the next three years writing, and touring, and during that three year period they released an EP and their sophomore effort Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. Once they had finished the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland. Interestingly around the same time, The Parson Red Heads had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live show, as they could easily morph from earnest rock to ass-kicking rock mode, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising as the band cites The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Nash, Stills and Young and Jackson Browne as major influences on their sound. Unsurprisingly, with their third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band actively wanted to capture the energy and sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” says Way. “When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side.”
Blurred Harmony, The Parson Red Heads’ fourth album was released earlier this year through renowned Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy, and as Way explained, the band intended to do things differently than they did before — with the band recording and tracking themselves, frequently setting up drums and amps, and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep, and trying to finish that day’s sessions before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”
December 8, 2017 will mark the release of the Expanded Edition of Blurred Harmony and it’ll feature two bonus tracks, which were originally recorded during the initial recording sessions and didn’t make the final cut, and as you know from a previous post, one of those cut singles was “TV Surprise,” a single that the band’s Way explains has been around for about a decade or so, and didn’t make the cut because lyrically, the band felt it was too abstract; however, the song manages to capture a band exploring a theme from a slightly different angle and managing to get a similar yet distinctly different result.

Interestingly, Blurred Harmony‘s second bonus single “It’s Hard For Me To Say” was originally recorded in December 2015 for inclusion on You Are The Cosmos‘ 12 string guitar compilation, Twelve String Harmony and as the story goes, the band had the finished track sitting in the can for a while, when they began working on their latest album. And as they began work on the album, they felt that they could re-record the song in a way that would fit better with the overall feel of the album. As Way recalls “It ended up not making the final cut — who knows, maybe it’s because we were already too familiar with it, maybe the extra months of the song’s recorded existence made it feel less fresh to our ears. But we really love this version — the rhythm section is tighter and more driving, the tambourine and Conrad 12-string electric channels the Byrds through a warped sense, and the three years of acoustic guitar shimmering just right. Plus, Raymond added some gorgeous pedal steel, and our friend Michael Blake added a wall of mellotron and Wurlitzer.” Much like the previous bonus single, sonically speaking the song feels as though it was the best suited of the two to actually seamlessly fit on to the original album. And naturally, its inclusion as a bonus track on the expanded edition should be a reminder that song selection and as song sequencing for an album is frequently an inexact and uncertain art while revealing the various editorial decisions a band has to make upon completion of an album.

Much like the previously released singles I’ve written about, “It’s Hard For Me To Say” manages to balance earnest and personal lyrics with a deliberate attention to craftsmanship in a way that contemporary indie rock — or hell, contemporary music general doesn’t seem to have these days, and as a result, the song seems charmingly anachronistic.

New Video: The Psychedelic Visuals and Jangling Sounds of Up-and-Coming London-based Act Tempesst

Comprised of siblings Toma Banjanin (vocals, guitar) and Andy Banjanin (drums), along with Eric Weber (guitar) and Kane Reynolds (keys), the Australian-born, London-based members of Tempesst have had what may be a breakthrough year: they’ve made appearances at some of the UK’s most renowned showcases, including The Great Escape, NME Awards, Live at Leeds; several festivals, including Bushstock, Southsea Fest and Hackney Wonderland; as well as opening sets for Mystery Jets, The Veils, Albert Hammond, Jr., GUM and The Temper Trap. And with a growing profile, the band released their debut EP Adult Wonderland to critical applause from Noisey, DIY, NME, Drowned in Sound, The Line of Best Fit, Clash Magazine and airplay from Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 show and Maz Tappuni’s Radio X show, Communion Presents. 

And from Adult Wonderland’s latest single “Feel Better,” the up-and-coming London-based band specialize in a jangling, 70s AM radio-inspired psych folk with enormous, and anthemic hooks and some impressive guitar work that’s reminiscent of Tame Impala and Drakkar Nowhere, complete with a deceptively easy-going breeziness that belies the material’s craft. Interestingly enough, the song bristles with an underlying bitter frustration.  As the band’s Toma Benjamin explains in press notes, “I wrote ‘Feel Better’ about the mindless rhythm of working all week and then partying all weekend. A lot of my friends and I have done it for years. Each month just blurs into a series of highs and lows. I guess I wrote this song about realising the monotony of it all. It’s actually a bit sad when you think about it.” 

Directed by the band’s Andy Banjanin, the recently released video for “Feel Better” follows the band members through a kaleidoscopic and almost Biblical journey of self-discovery in which they eat some forbidden fruit, descend and ascend from a metaphorical hell and metaphorical heaven. And fitting with the overall aesthetic, the video is hot in a fashion that nods at movies from the early 70s. 

Forming in 2014 and deriving their name from the fictional spice in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi saga Dune that makes intergalactic travel, telepathy and longevity possible, the Madrid, Spain-based psych rock quintet Melange, comprised of long-time friends Adrian Ceballos (drums and vocals), Daniel Fernandez (bass and vocals), Mario Zamora (keyboard and vocals), Sergio Ceballos (guitar and vocals), and Miguel Rosón (guitar and vocals) are among their hometown’s most accomplished and acclaimed musicians — with the band’s individual members having stints in locally renowned acts including Lüger, RIPKC, and Bucles and others.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the summer, you may recall that the members of Melange brashly emerged into both Madrid’s and their home country’s music scenes with their self-released, double LP, which featured a highly conceptual narrative influenced by the diverse experiences of the bandmembers. Thematically, the material touched upon evolution, comprehension and transformation through music — all while sonically drawing from prog rock, psych rock and folk music, and as a result, the band received praise from  El Pais, Mondo Sonoro, Sol Musica, and Ruta 66 as well as airplay from Radio 3, and played at some of their homeland’s biggest and well-regarded festivals including Low Festival, Sonogram Festival, Sala Stereo Festival, Sala Planta Baja, Festival Noroeste, Festival Wos, Fueu Festival and others.

Building upon a breakthrough 2016, which included a busy touring schedule, the band spent their free-time writing and recording their h ighly-anticipated, Carlos Diaz-produced sophomore album Viento Bravo,  which live to tape at Gismo 7 Studios in Motril, Spain and Phantom Power in Madrid Spain. Reportedly, the album finds the band refining their sound — with the album’s breezy, tropicalia-like first single “Rio Revuelto” reminding me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Boogarins, Junip , Jose Gonzales and The Yes Album-era Yes. The album’s second and latest single “Cotard” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor but with an even trippier song structure emphasized by arpeggiated organ chords and some impressive guitar world — but unlike its predecessor, it has a more direct psych rock and prog rock-based sound, seemingly nodding at The Doors‘ “Light My Fire,” Yes’ “Roundabout,” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” among others.

 

 

Renowned psych rock label Beyond Beyond is Beyond Recordswill be releasing Viento Bravo on November 17, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Founded by its creative mastermind Chris Karman, the Los Angeles, CA-based psych folk act Historian derive their name from an long-held inside joke for the members of the band had developed, based around Karman’s encyclopedic knowledge of music. And as Karman asserts in press notes, his fanatical and obsessive nature spilled into the band’s songwriting process. We like to put down tons of ideas. And then meticulously pull back the layers, pouring over every detail.”

The band’s 2013 debut Shelf Life was supported with a West Coast tour, while Karman moonlighted as a music supervisor. 2015’s sophomore full-length effort, Current was released by The Record Machine to critical praise from Buzzbands L.A., Impose and Austin Town Hall, and as a result of their growing profile, the band opened for the likes of Haunted Summer and Globelamp. Not bad for a songwriter and band that have openly mentioned that they’ve felt “more comfortable when our music is a little out of step with its surroundings.”

Unsurprisingly the members of Historian had gone into the studio during the Current sessions with a number of songs that just didn’t make the cut for the album; however, a number of those songs signaled an interesting new direction that the band felt compelled to pursue towards their natural conclusion — with the end result being the band’s third full-length effort, Expanse. And as you’ll hear off album single “Thrown on the Road,” the band has gone on a decided sonic left turn, with the band pairing  pastoral-like folk music with the sort of lush string arrangements (played by renowned renowned string quartet Quartetto Fantastico) reminiscent of Beck‘s Sea ChangeR.E.M.’s Automatic for the People and the early work of the under-appreciated Scott Walker.

But what sets “Thrown on the Road” apart is that the song is a brooding and melancholy meditation on the passage of time that evokes a lonely man sitting in front of a glass of 12 year old, single malt scotch, contemplating the messiness of human life and relationships, of lingering ghosts that alternately haunt and taunt at the strangest times, of family, friends and lovers departed. Simply put, it’s music meant for those occasions when you’re feeling lost and alone and can’t seem to figure out the meaning of anything anymore.