Category: psych pop

New Video: The Psychedelic Grooves and Visuals of Boy Azooga’s “Face Behind Her Cigarette”

Coming from a rather musical family — with one of his grandfathers playing drums for the Royal Marines, his father, a violinist and his mom, a clarinetist, who both played and met in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Davey Newington is a Cardiff, Wales, UK-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrument, who’s known as the creative mastermind of indie rock/psych rock act Boy Azooga, a solo recording project that derives its name from the 1994 major motion picture, The Little Rascals. Interestingly, Newington, who took up drums when he had turned 6 and played in a number of Welsh orchestral and jazz bands as a teenager. 

As the story goes, Newington had an art teacher, who sent the then-aspiring musician off to town to buy Can’s Ege Bamyasi but along with that, Newington cites the like of Sly & The Family Stone, Caribou, Black Sabbath, Outkast, Van McCoy and The Beastie Boys among others as influences on him and his own work. For live shows, Newington recruited friends Daf Davies, Dylan Morgan and Sam Barnes, and as a quartet the band can reportedly shift from psych rock, krautrock, and shoegaze within a turn of a phrase. In fact, their latest single “Face Behind Her Cigarette” to my ears manages to nod at the dance floor friendly, psych pop of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and the motorik grooves of Can but with a breezy, hook laden, almost dance floor friendly air; however, as Newington notes, the song nods to Hot Butter’s 1972 smash, synth pop album Popcorn and Nigerian funk legend William Onyeabor. “This song is basically just a celebration (rip off) of the late great William Onyeabor,” Newington explains. “I wanted the percussion to be purposefully a bit too loud, maybe by the usual standard. Loads of Onyeabor’s percussion is blaring in the mix, but it makes it sound so live and feely. I wanted to create that feeling of being in the room where the music is being played.”

The recently released music video features the band playing over some superimposed psychedelic and retro-futuristic imagery and effects — and in some way it possesses a delightfully cheesy DIY vibe. 

New Video: The Psychedelic Sounds and Visuals of Swiss-born, Berlin-based Pop Artist Evelinn Trouble

Evelinn Trouble is a Swiss-born and currently Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who over the course of four critically applauded albums released in her homeland, has developed a reputation for being a musical chameleon with every effort finding the Swiss-born, German-based artist adopting a different sound, aesthetic and alter ego; in fact, her debut was an album of lo-fi pop, her sophomore effort was an abrasive take on industrial doom rock, her third album was an all analog, live recording that mixed Motown aesthetics with Trouble’s decidedly eerie songwriting and she then followed that up with an EP featuring covers of old evergreens and standards.

Trouble’s latest single “Sunset Everytime” is a slow-burning pop song which pairs a languid yet aching vocal performance with a shimmering arrangement featuring pedal effected shoegazer rock-like guitars, softly padded drumming, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats and a lush yet moody string section that nods at the cinematic, psych pop of Scott Walker (in particular, “It’s Raining Today” off the lush Scott 3), Amy Winehouse, and Portishead;  but while being an ode to all things being finite; in fact, interestingly enough, the song was written during a period of several different transitions and is intended as a series of goodbyes — to her former home in London, where she lived until relocating to Berlin last year, to her former band, whom she’s letting go in order to self-produce what she describes will be a psychedelic, trap pop album, to old habits, friends and lovers, and to Jimmy Boeing, the tour bus that her and her band used while on tour throughout the past 6 years. 

Directed by Trouble, the video features Trouble, her bandmates and the video’s protagonist and faithful companion Jimmy Boeing as the van goes on one last glorious and magical trip (that interestingly enough, nods at The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine) before its fateful trip to the junkyard. 

Founded by production and songwriting duo Daniel Collas and Sean Marquand, along with a rotating cast of friends and collaborators that included Aurelio Valle, Carol C., Jaleel Bunton, Jon Spencer, Lady Tigra, Patrick Wood, Luke Riverside, Laura Martin, Bing Ji Ling, Pier Pappalardo and Joan Tick, the Brooklyn-based psych soul act The Phenomenal Handclap Band formed in 2009 and received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere with the release of 2012’s sophomore effort, Form and Control.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about Phenomenal Handclap band, as Collas with Morgen Phalen and members of Stockholm, Sweden-based bands Dungen and The Amazing formed the cosmic jazz, jazz fusion, prog rock and psych pop-inspired act Drakkar Nowhere, who caught my attention with the release of their gorgeous, self-titled full-length debut last year. And in this iteration of The Phenomenal Handclap Band, the project’s founding member Collas is collaborating with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Juliet Swango, who’s perhaps best known as a member of teen band The Rondelles on the double A side single “Traveler’s Prayer”/”Stepped Into the Light,” which Daptone Records imprint Magnifreeq released today — and unsurprisingly, “Traveler’s Prayer” will further cement Callas long-held reputation for a sound that draws from psych pop, psych rock, Northern soul, prog rock and krautrock, and while clearly sounding as though it were released during the era of 70s AM rock, it possesses a clean, hyper modern production sheen and a breezy, disco-like vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Aptly Psychedelic Visuals for POND’s “Colder Than Ice”

Founded by frontman, primary member and creative mastermind Jay Watson POND is a Perth, Australia-based psych rock project that features a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators including Tame Impala frontman and primary member Kevin Parker. The project’s 2009 full-length debut Psychedelic Mango was much more psych rock and psych pop-leaning but with 2010’s Frond, Watson and company had increasingly taken up a much heavier pop sound. 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim was an international breakthrough and was released to critical praise. 

Interestingly enough, the material on Beard, Wives, Denim was written and recorded around the release of Tame Impala’s critically applauded breakthrough effort Innerspeaker and with the growing buzz around Australia’s music scene, the members of Pond found themselves touring internationally to support the album — and it included an appearance at that year’s SXSW and a one-off show with CAN‘s Damo Suzuki, a major influence on Watson and his sound.

Watson and company’s latest effort The Weather continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin Parker, and the album’s latest single “Colder Than Ice” pairs Watson’s sultry falsetto with a production consisting of icy and shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a motorik groove in what may arguably be one of the more dance floor friendly tracks they’ve released in some time; but underneath the swaggering surface is a trippy, kaleidoscopic vibe. 

Co-directed by the members of POND and George Foster, the recently released visuals feature members of the band in gritty, Eastern European-like environs and stars Kirin  J. Callinan as a dancing cowboy — and naturally, it’s a trippy accompaniment to the song. 

Perhaps best known as the lead guitarist of the British indie rock band Howling Bells, Joel Stein, an Australian-born, British-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter decided that after four successful albums with the band and a series of world tours with the likes of The Killers and others, that it was time to pursue his own solo work with his recording project Glassmaps .

Stein’s Glassmaps debut, Strangely Addicted was recorded and produced by Stein in the Las Vegas, NV-based home studio of The Killers’ Mark Stoermer, where Joel was staying while recording with Howling Bells. And while staying with Stoermer, Stein found a soundproofed room filled with random instruments — tubular bells, a double bass, a three-stringed banjo, vintage guitars and an old Telefunken microphone on which he recorded vocals.  And the end result was material that finds Stein, employing both electronic and organic instrumentation on punchy, hook-driven material that’s nods at 60s psych pop and psych rock and 70s AM radio rock while thematically the songs draw on his personal experiences while focusing on universal themes — love, loss, life, etc. Interestingly enough, the album features guest spots by The Killers’ Mark Stoermer, who plays bass on album single “Summer Rain,” and Howling Bells’ Glenn Moule, who contributes drumming throughout the entire album. “I took my laptop into that soundproofed room and didn’t really sleep for two weeks,” Joel recalls. “I would wake Glenn in the early hours of the morning to drum on tracks I had just finished. He’d sleepwalk his way to the kit and just nail it every time!”

“Hypnotised” is breezy symphonic pop with multi-part harmonies that nods at Sgt. Pepper-era The Beatles and ELO with soaring hook that quickly throws a trippy curveball as the song suddenly turns into a hazy psychedelia with an impressive guitar solo but while being clearly under-pinned by an old-timey vibe, the song possesses a swooning romanticism; after all, the song is about a beguiling woman, who seemingly casts a spell on the song’s narrator. But along with that, the song reveals some rather ambitious songwriting.  “The sonic inspiration varies from classical music to 70’s music,” Stein explains. “I was adamant in making a very organic record, I missed the sound of guitars, especially guitar solos.”

 

Comprised of Idaho Falls, ID-born and currently Portland, OR-based Aaron Chapman and Idaho Falls, ID-born and currently Los Angeles, CA-based John Bowers, the synth pop duo Nurses have developed a reputation for a creative restlessness with the project seeing several different iterations rooted in making the strange seem familiar and the familiar seem strange; but interestingly, that restlessness seems inspired by the restlessness that the duo bonded over in the first place. After leaving their isolated and predominantly Mormon hometown, the duo have spent time on a rural California fan, a van in Chicago and an attic in Portland before the members of the duo relocated to Portland and Los Angeles respectively. And naturally,  as a result the duo find themselves collaborating at a distance and through the internet.

Interestingly with the release of the critically applauded albums Apple’s Acre and Dracula saw the band receiving a growing national profile, as they toured with the likes of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, The Mountain Goats, The Tallest Man on Earth and others; but they also received attention after the A$AP Mob freestyled over the beatfreestyled over the beat from “You Lookin’ Twice” for Pitchfork’s Selector.

Since then the duo has developed a reputation for being reclusive; however, Naughtland which is slated for an October 7, 2017 release will be the first bit of recorded output the duo have released in over six years with the album’s titled being derived from a series of conversations the duo had during the writing and recording process about the origins of ideas and inspiration, and whether were generated internally or plucked like fruit from the street of some independent non-place. Reportedly, the material on the forthcoming Naughtland will further cement the duo’s reputation for plumbing the stranger depths of the human condition as the material thematically focuses on ephemerality and materiality, life and death, love and terror, the struggle for self in the duality of contemporary identity and so on, essentially admitting that life is confusing and complicated array of paradoxes and uncertainties — and that hell, that’s okay.

The album’s first single, album opener “In The Mirror” is arguably one of the strangest yet most accessible songs I’ve personally heard this year as the duo craft a sound and production that pairs swaggering, twitter and woofer rocking beats, twisting and turning synth chords, a lysergic-fueled guitar solo, R&B-like falsetto crooning and a soaring and anthemic hook that can be seen as celebrating the impermanence of life or celebrating nihilism. Sonically the song has been accurately described as a Dr. Dre-like production set in a David Lynchian nightmare — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the song possesses a feverish vibe.

Since their formation in 2004, the Brooklyn-based psych rock/stoner rock Weird Owl, comprised of Trevor Tyrrell (guitar, vocals), Jon Rudd (guitar), Sean Reynolds (drums), Kenneth Cook (bass, keys, synths, backing vocals) and John Cassidy (keys, synths), have developed a reputation for a sound that’s been compared to Deep Purple, Hawkwind, Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Spirit, for releasing a steady stream of new music, which they’ve supported through tours of the US and UK; in fact, heir first two albums 2009’s Ever the Silver Cord Be Loosed and 2011’s Build Your Beast a Fire were self-released with later material catching the attention of The Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s Anton Newcombe, who released the band’s 2013 EP Healing and 2015’s Interstellar Skeletal through his A Recordings, Ltd. 

The band’s sixth release this decade, Bubblegum Brainwaves is slated for an October 13, 2017 release, and the album thematically touches upon cognitive dissonance, darkness, uncertainty, war, a world crumbling towards a dysfunctional dystopia — and naturally is informed by the currently political climate while reportedly finding the band pushing their sound towards new directions.  And as you’ll hear on “You (Sometimes Not You),” the first single off the band’s forthcoming album, the members of Weird Owl pair shimmering synths with a soaring hook and a catchy, Summer of Love meets retro-futuristic synth pop melody.

 


Earlier this year, I wrote about  San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based sibling duo Cones  and as you may recall the sibling duo comprised of Jonathan Rosen, a pop music influenced, acclaimed hand-drawn animator,  who has created music videos for a number of renowned artists including Toro y Moi, Eleanor Friedberger and Delicate Steve, whose rock ‘n’ roll dream started in earnest when he played Johnny Thunders for the HBO series Vinyl; and Michael Rosen, who is a classically trained pianist, commercial/film composer and experimental sound artist can trace the origins of their band to when they began playing together as members of the NYC-based indie rock act Icewater. Eventually, the members of Icewater began playing as the session and backing band for Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger, helping to write, record her latest album New View.

And as the story, while touring with Friedberger, the Rosens began to conceptualize what Cones would sound like, and ultimately they decided that the project’s overall sound would fuse Jonathan’s pop sensibilities with Michael’s lush, atmospheric soundscapes and keyboard-based instrumentation.  Shortly after the tour, the Rosens with a bunch of friends, associates and collaborators to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their debut EP Whatever You’re Into, which featured single “Echoes On,” a single that paired Jonathan’s dreamy falsetto with a twangy, psych country-like arrangement with a breeziness reminiscent of 70s AM radio.

Their latest single “Back In The Brain” will further cement the sibling duo’s reputation for crafting breezy and wistful synth pop with a motorik-like groove and soaring hooks but underneath the breeziness is a song is an aching loneliness. As Jonathan Rosen explains “A friend of mine once described living alone as a sensation of being constantly inside of your own brain — your house is your head. After a while I realized I would often think the phrase ‘back in the brain’ upon returning home from being out, so we turned it into a song. It’s my ode to solitude.

“The animation, drawn and colored by hand, brings this idea to life. Through the yes of Bob the Hippie — an extremely groove dude, who lives inside of a lava lamp, we witness the magical confusion of seclusion.”

Live Footage: Tame Impala Performs “Love/Paranoia” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

Initially developed as the solo recording project of its  Melbourne, Australia-based creative mastering, the multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter Kevin Parker, Tame Impala quickly received national and international attention with the release of Innerspeaker and Lonerism. Parker’s third and most current full-length effort, Currents was released to critical praise two years ago, and from album singles “Cause I’m a Man” and “Let It Happen” reflected a decided change in Parker’s songwriting approach with the result being some of the most emotionally direct material he’s written to date. Along with that, sonically Parker expands upon the sound that has won him both national and international attention, with album material drawing from synth pop, prog rock and R&B, creating not only a modern take on psych pop, but also a much more nuanced, textured sound. 

After playing a critically applauded Panorama Festival set at the end of July, Parker and his touring band made an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where they performed the slow-burning and ethereal “Love/Paranoia,” a track that draws equally from synth pop, R&B and psych pop simultaneously; but underneath the shimmering and glistening surface is a plaintive plea from a severely screwed up man that has let his insecurities and petty jealousies (among other things) interfere in a meaningful relationship, and naturally, the song is an earnest plea for forgiveness; but unlike countless other songs based around a similar experience and emotion, there’s a sense that the song’s narrator recognizes that he has potentially fucked things up for good — and a result, the pleading possesses a sincere urgency.